The rare species caught on camera trapped while walking in the night in the concession forest of the KMP.
Borneo Leopard (Bornean clouded leopard / Neofelisdiardi) caught on camera trap while walking in the night in the concession forest of the Katingan Mentaya Project (KMP) in Katingan, Central Kalimantan. The appearance of this animal in the region is quite surprising, because these animals are not only very rare, but are also shy and difficult to find. The population of one of these wild animals is threatened because the forest that has been its habitat has been displaced as a plantation area and mining.
They are one of the harshest environments on the planet and also one of the most important in terms of carbon storage. New research hopes to reveal the role these threatened bogs could play in the climate change story
The good news
The good news is that if we block drainage canals, peatlands can be partly restored by preventing water levels from declining further. Planting native plants in degraded areas can also help by retaining water. Further damage can be mitigated by such measures, but whether damaged peatlands will ever recover their lost carbon and ecological potential, Kolka says no one knows, and if they can, timescales could be in the thousands of years.
One potential way to secure the world’s vulnerable peatlands is through the global carbon market. Indonesian entrepreneur Dharsono Hartono spent nine years working to secure a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for his Katingan Projectin Borneo. Today it’s the largest land use VCS project on the planet, covering 157,875 hectares (390,000 acres) of peatland containing a gigatonne of carbon, according to Hartono, and is a vital community project promoting less carbon-intensive agriculture. Carbon storage varies by peatland but generally is 30–70kg of carbon per cubic meter (35 cubic feet).
“This is a long-term business, you just have to be persistent,” Hartono says, adding that now that his “product” is ready he’s on the look out for buyers.
Hartono started the project with a focus on climate change, but he says it has since transformed: “It’s become a story of the people,” he says, who are the “heart and soul” of the project.
Thirty-four villages surround Hartono’s concession in a buffer area that is partly peatlands as well. In order to protect the main site from fires, the project also has to change neighboring farms. Hartono and his team have spent the past few years helping communities shift from slash-and-burn farming to what he calls “climate-smart agriculture.”
“You have to find a solution, you can’t just tell people not to burn,” he says.
The Katingan Project is an endeavor to protect and restore a 200,000 ha peat swamp forest in Indonesian Borneo.
The Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project (the Katingan Project) aims to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity and create sustainable economic development opportunities that improve the lives of rural communities.
The Katingan Project is based on the premise that large areas of peat swamp forest in Indonesian Borneo can still be saved or restored, thus offering local people sustainable sources of income, tackling global climate change, and doing it all based on a solid business model. What defines them is a no-nonsense, transparent and result-oriented approach to land-use and conservation in a part of the world where this is needed most.
At its core, the project is financed by what it achieves in terms of sequestering and avoiding the emissions of carbon dioxide. This part of the project is managed by an Indonesian company, P.T. Rimba Makmur Utama, through an Ecosystem Restoration Concession granted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. This core business model works such that the benefits are passed on to local communities, the local region and the wider State of Indonesia in which it operates.
As dawn breaks over Katingan, men and women set out to collect rattan, an activity that will keep them busy until the end of the day. But for many of them, there are low expectations of financial gains from this activity.
And yet, rattan remains a popular commodity around the project area: it grows fast and it is resilient. There are 3 main types of rattan: sigi, irit and bulu. Once planted, they typically grow up to 2 m every year, and can be harvested after 5 years. These rattans are soft and flexible, and are usually shredded into ropes to weave mats, baskets, bags and fish traps. Other types of rattan, known ashalatung, dahanen and ahas, grow naturally in the wild and have a bigger trunk. They are used as materials to make fish traps or furniture such as tables.
The price of raw rattan is approximately 2,000-2,500 rupiah per kilogram, and a local rattan farmer typically makes around 25,000-30,000 rupiah per day. But the price of rattan has been falling. In 2009, the Government of Indonesia set an export quota for rattan products and a local trading company in Katingan has a monopolistic control over the local industry, which allows it to set the buying rate of raw rattan at a minimum. This has caused direct economic hardship on rattan farmers who depend on this industry to earn an income. For this reason, rattan is the option of last resort when fish are difficult to catch and crops yields fail.
“Rattan is a very important resource and economic potential in our village but the price is still low. We don’t know what the real market price is so we just trade the rattan with the price that buyers set–even though we know it is not fair.” – Local community member
Two years after Harrison Ford visited The Katingan Project filming The Years of Living Dangerously in 2013, Indonesia is experiencing devastating forest fires as land is cleared for palm oil production.
As a partner on the Katingan Project I have set up rattan workshops in the forest to provide alternative employment for the people living in the area. See rattan wicker baskets made in the Katingan Project workshops on set in Star Wars 7, out Dec 12th and visit us on Stand E49 at Spirit of Christmas Nov 2- 8 to see and buy them.
The 100-day countdown for Star Wars The Force Awakens has begun. It will be released in the UK on 17 December so British audiences will see it 24 hours before fans in the US.
Trailers for Star Wars 7 have offered glimpses of our wicker rattan baskets on fire!
Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens will see the return Harrison Ford as Han Solo. We wonder if he noticed our baskets as the same baskets he’d seen being made in our jungle workshops when he visited the rain forest in Indonesia whilst filming The Years of Living Dangerously in 2013?
Executive Producer David Gelber (along with colleagues) accepts the Emmy for Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously” TV series. Photo via Showtime.
It was a great night Saturday at the Emmys for non-fiction series with a science and/or climate theme. Fox’s “Cosmos” won four Emmys, including “Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming.” Showtime’s “Years Of Living Dangerously” won the top award, “Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series” (along with PBS’s “American Masters”).
“Years of Living Dangerously” is the first documentary series devoted to climate change ever to appear on a major network or premium cable. Its nine episodes were produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jerry Weintraub and three former 60 Minutes producers. I was Chief Science Advisor for the series alongside Heidi Cullen.
Earlier this month, “Years” was named as the first honoree of the 2014 Environmental Media Awards, winning “The EMA Outstanding Achievement for Environmental Content Award.” The landmark series generated dozens of major news stories and more than a billion (!) media impressions.
Former 60 Minutes producer Joel Bach, an Executive Producer of “Years” and series co-creator with David Gelber, told me:
YEARS received great fanfare on Showtime — hopefully this will put another spotlight on the show and encourage new audiences to watch it on Amazon and the like. Also, this fall the National Wildlife Federation will be releasing YEARS lesson plans in middle schools, high schools and colleges around the country. Our goal has always been to tell the story of climate change to as many people as possible, and this Emmy win goes a long way towards helping accomplish that goal.
The entire series will be available on DVD September 7, and Amazon has begun taking preorders already. The Katingan Project is featured in the premier episode.