Sunday, 27 December 2009

Another Christmas Tree?

So firstly I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas! Here in Bali we celebrated with a traditional BBQ feast. The boys got up at 5am and went to the local market to get fresh fish, prawns and squid. We girls were in charge of gutting and preparing all the lovely seafood and the condiments so on Christmas day you could find us up to our heads in fish guts and chocolate mousse! A splendid mix if I may say so myself. Dewi and Widi, our local Balinese colleagues came over to celebrate their first Christmas with us and brought some lovely sambal and sumping which hit the right taste buds in a remarkable manner.
We are now back in the office and rearing to go! Here at SOS we have a goal to reach by the end of 2009, we want to plant 25,000 trees inside the Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra by the end of the year; currently we have 2568 trees to go before we reach our target. It costs £1 to plant one rainforest seedling, if you feel like getting another tree this Christmas; you can help us by visiting our webshop or our justgiving page.
Speak to you later!



Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Painting the Jungle Shop

Ok, so this year, May I believe it was, SOS Bali opened the JungleShop, a thrift store in the heart of Ubud.
We have a volunteer Shop Manager and local staff manning the store. The shop has loads of exciting merchandise, because not only do we get second hand donations, we also get new items from boutiques down in Kuta and Seminyak! SOS has put in loads of hard work to ensure that locals, ex-pats and tourists pop by the shop.

Lately we decided that the shop needed some sprucing up and decided to paint the wall with
a picture of Pongo, the orangutan from Teman Hutan, who is also the shop’s mascot. So one evening after work, we loaded up with a projector, brushes and a tin of paint and made our way down to Jalan Gootama. Bali has these scheduled power cuts, but the thing is that even though they are planned, you never really know when they are going to happen. Luckily for us, we had two full evenings of uninterrupted painting, and the powercut didn’t take place until we had finished the full mural.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Arriving in Paradise

Arriving in Bali was like stepping into a totally different country. Indonesia consist of 17,000 islands and the difference from one to another soon becomes clear, especially as you leave Sumatra behind and head to the tourist paradise that is Bali. SOS has an office in Bali, which is where I am working from for the next month or so. The rationale behind the Bali office is quite obvious: there are enough ex-pats and tourists here to keep you fundraising for a lifetime. Because there is such a massive amount of foreigners that have moved here to Bali, there is also a massive opportunity for SOS to go into both private schools and work with classes on a long term basis. We already do a lot of work with local schools, but with fundraising opportunities this would allow us to work with schools on a more long-term basis, and who knows, perhaps the next school trip could be to the jungle to see the Sumatran orangutan?
Bali is not just famous for its epic surf, but is also a hub for craftsmen that create lovely merchandise for SOS and helps us spread awareness and raise funds on a global basis. We reach a massive international audience here, and loads of people come into our office wanting information on the orangutans and how best to consciously go about visiting the orangutans. We help them with general information, work with companies in Sumatra who donates a cut to us and also generate awareness with the tourists before they even reach the jungle
Bali has also been identified as a hub for illegal trade of protected animal species, so it is extra important that we are generating awareness to make sure Bali is not involved with trading of the orangutan or other endangered wildlife.
Since we got to Bali we have also been able to update the Flickr site, so have a look if you want to see more photos from Sumatra, including replanting, school visits and of course Bukit Lawang.
Right, off to see the SOS ‘Jungleshop’ now, will tell you all about what this is in the next blog...


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sumatran School Visit

During my time in Sumatra I also had the opportunity to go along to a school visit. SOS supports OIC so they can visit local schools, show presentations and films, have Q&A sessions, hand out activity books and even maintain a OranguVan –which contains mobile environmental libraries and film units. The school we visited is situated in the midst of a massive oil plantation area. Most of the children attending this government run school have parents who work on the plantations, making them the perfect target group for addressing local sustainable issues such as Palm Tree plantations and de-forestation. The group we met are called the Green Group, they meet every Wednesday to discuss environmental issues, recycle and do gardening work in their school garden. They run their own pioneering composting programme where they are turning palm oil branches into compost. These branches fall off the trees at regular intervals, and are usually left to rot or collected and incinerated. The children are collecting the branches with support from the plantation and creating good quality compost which they can use at their schools patch of land or take it home to their kitchen gardens. One idea we thought about when we were at the school, was if it is possible to extend this programme to other schools in the area and create our own compost to use on re-forestation sites. I’ll let you know if anything ever comes from this initial thought.
In our presentation we discussed the importance of water, especially clean water, for the ecology and how this affects both animals and humans. We then had a Q&A session where we got to test their environmental knowledge, and they got the chance to ask us about environmental issues and of course about our countries – after all, it’s not every day they have a visit from two English people, a Norwegian and an Australian. We also had the chance to hand out a new children’s book which SOS has helped fund; Teman Hutan, which was very popular with the young conservationists.

The book is printed in English and Bahasa Indonesia, and tells the story of Pongo, the orangutan. It is a great way of explaining to children why the rainforest is so important for the orangutans and the other wildlife who depend on the Sumatran forest. Check out Captain Freddie’s website for more information.
Catch you later,


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Replanting rainforest

After visiting the orangutans in Bukit Lawang we headed north to visit a replanting site in Besitang, North Sumatra. The area we went to used to be a massive illegal palm oil plantation and is actually located inside the national park; the main problem with the Palm oil here in Sumatra (simply put) is that so much rainforest is being cleared to make room for the plantations that is has a direct impact on wildlife and forest biodiversity. When palm trees plantations are created, little, if any wildlife can function in these new surroundings. The orangutans cannot swing from the branches of the palms and there are no fruit trees around to support their diet.

Oh, and did I mention that OIC is the first and only NGO allowed to conduct restoration work within the park? We have been, and are still in the process of removing Palm Oil trees, thus allowing us to plant indigenous species in their place. A local farmers group is the main force involved in the reforestation process and there are currently 25,000 seedlings in the surrounding nurseries, just waiting to become a part of the rainforest. To cut a long story short, our initial reforesting target is to replant 500 hectares of orangutan habitat lost to development such as plantations. We are doing this by working with the local community group and the local farmers. Not only is this project immensely important for the upkeep of the orangutans and wildlife, but it also provides the all important sustainable livelihoods for the local community. There is a real science to re-foresting areas such as these, and advice on what plants to grow, how to grow them and how to sustain them, is coming in from experts both within Sumatra and from external scientists. We are planting approximately 70% fast growing hardwood trees and the remaining are fruit trees which will serve as good orangutan grub.

In the old plantations of Besitang, we all got down and dirty in the mud and planted some yummy looking Durian trees alongside the workers, the land owner and forest rangers. This was the first time I had the opportunity to plant rainforest myself and I must say it felt good – you should definitively try it some time!

Or, if you don’t have the chance to visit a rainforest anytime soon, you can help by buying seedlings through our online shop, at £1 a pop, it really is a great way of helping us do more crucial reforestation work.

Au revoir


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