Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Borneo Rainforest Appeal launched

19 August, 2013 - 12:10 -- World Land Trust
A young Orang-utan in the wild. © Chris Perrett /
Dr Isabelle Lackman in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. © Hutan.

World Land Trust (WLT) has launched its biggest ever appeal aiming to raise one million pounds to secure a wildlife corridor for Bornean Orang-utans in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

The launch of the appeal was held at the Linnean Society in London, and the event was introduced by a short film of a male flanged Orang-utan building its nest for the night.

“Orang-utans make a new nest every night, but few people are lucky enough to witness or film it,” said Mary McEvoy, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Manager (Africa and Asia Regions), who made the film on a recent visit to Sabah. “We showed the film at the launch of WLT’s Borneo Rainforest Appeal to demonstrate the vital importance of forest habitat for Orang-utan survival.”

Special guest at the launch was leading conservationist and Bornean Orang-utan specialist, Dr Isabelle Lackman. Isabelle is Co-Director of Hutan, WLT’s conservation partner in Malaysia. She spoke passionately about the need to create a vitally important wildlife corridor along the Kinabatangan River.

As a result of logging and agricultural development including Oil Palm cultivation, 90 per cent of Sabah’s native Orang-utan populations has been wiped out in the past 100 years.

Sabah is one of the last remaining Orang-utan strongholds, and there are currently thought to be some 1,000 Orang-utans in Lower Kinabatangan. On the surface this seems a large number, but as Isabelle explains: “The Orang-utan populations are highly fragmented, and groups range from between five individuals to more than 200. Some groups are simply too isolated to be viable.”


Land purchase for conservation

However – and this is where WLT comes in - with strategic purchasing, it’s possible to secure, one by one, small parcels of land to form a corridor between existing protected areas that are currently separated. Linking fragments of forest enables isolated groups of Orang-utans to form larger, more viable populations. And many other species benefit as well.

Journalist and WLT supporter, Dominic Belfield attended the launch. “Dr Isabelle Lackman is an impressive wildlife advocate and her presentation was an unmissable chance to get a grasp of what Hutan is up against in Sabah, while affording a real sense of hope for what can be achieved by intelligent, determined, well motivated people,” said Dominic.

Community support

Isabelle has lived and worked in Sabah for 15 years and has seen an amazing transformation in people’s view of conservation: “After a few years, local people start realising the effects of industrial agriculture. They come to realise that they are losing out, as well as the wildlife. And now the perception of conservation has changed. People know what's going on and they have the motivation to protect the remaining forest.”

Nicola Davies, author and WLT ambassador, visited Sabah in 2012. She gave her wholehearted support to the appeal. “Sabah is such a wonderful place. Despite the fact that the forest is no longer primary, it is teeming with bird life, and it’s possible to see primates so easily. The local people are driving wildlife conservation initiatives and are so willing to talk, not just about conservation, but also about the problems they face, and about their vision for the future. Local people are behind what Hutan is doing, their aims are consistent with Hutan’s and World Land Trust’s.”

Big Match Fortnight

Big Match Fortnight

WLT Trustee, Dr Simon Lyster, called on WLT supporters to back the Borneo Rainforest Appeal. “We are launching WLT’s largest appeal ever,” said Simon, “and we are focusing our fundraising efforts on WLT’s Big Match Fortnight, which runs from 2 – 16 October. We have some incredibly generous supporters who have pledged £125,000 to match public donations of the equivalent amount.” If WLT can successfully raise £250,000 during Big Match Fortnight, there is another supporter who is prepared to bring the total raised to £300,000.

As Simon put it: “We need help from you our ambassadors and supporters to spread the word so that we can raise funds that are so urgently needed.”

More information

The Borneo Rainforest Appeal: aiming to raise One Million pounds was launched on 13 August 2013.

After Big Match Fortnight, please help WLT reach its million pound target to safeguard Orang-utan forest habitat by donating to the Borneo Rainforest Appeal.

UPDATE: The following button will now take you to the donate to Action Fund page

Donate to the Action Fund »


Submitted by Chris Redston on

As a long time WLT supporter, I fully support this important initiative and will be donating to the Big Match Fortnight, and urge others to do the same. As David Attenborough says, donating to WLT is one of the best things you can do to help wildlife, and if you don't protect the habitat, you can't protect anything. I have a question, though - how long is the land that is currently available to buy (ie the land that will join up these sections of forest to make the corridor)? If other situations are anything to go buy, these will be sought after by palm oil companies, etc too.

Submitted by Chris Redston on

Hi again - just watched the lovely film of the orang-utan making his nest. What a nice chap he is. However, I notice that the pop-up ad that accompanies it is sending people to the justgiving website to donate, rather than the WLT's own donations page. Perhaps this needs to be changed?

Submitted by Chris Redston on

I understand that WLT are running this Borneo Rainforest Appeal instead of doing the Big Give this year, so if any supporters (like me) plan their future donations so that they are match-funded, then you should support this appeal and not wait for the Big Give in December. It also means, I would imagine, that you will avoid the frustration of trying to give and the money running out too quickly on the day, which has been a problem with the Big Give in the last couple of years. I would expect that the WLT will welcome donations to this appeal 24/7 over the whole fortnight. Just thought this was worth mentioning.

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

Here's three more good reasons to pitch in with this fundraising appeal:-
There's no commission to be paid off into third party organisers' coffers ... No 4% Blues!

You're not in competition with anyone - there's a whole two weeks available - choose your preferred mode (online or post)

No clashes with Christmas, Children In Need, there's some proper money ready and waiting for your donation to double up with... Orangs, elephants, tucans, rainforest, and a local partner with a real sense of purpose and vision.

Submitted by Dan Bradbury on

Hi Chris - We plan to have new donation page available on the website in time for the Big Match Fortnight, once that has been created we will look into changing the YouTube link

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