Global and Local Partners Reach Important Milestone in Reforesting Sumatra

December 22, 2020

The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and Taronga Conservation Society Australia have partnered with the Indonesian government, national park officials and local partners, including, Yayasan Badak Indonesia, in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra to design and implement a significant restoration project, which is now officially halfway through a four-year project to achieve an initial 100 HA of restored forest.

The success comes in spite of the impacts of COVID-19, with conservationists continuing to strive forward with ambitious plans to restore the planet’s health and biodiversity. The important restoration project in Way Kambas National Park will have play a crucial role in securing a future for iconic species such as the Sumatran rhino and has been achieved through global and local partnerships.

Sumatran lowland forests are widely regarded as one of the most biodiverse on earth. With the help of donors, this project is creating refuge for critically endangered ecological communities and hundreds of threatened species. Way Kambas is home to the critically endangered Sumatran rhino, as well as other wildlife, including tigers, elephants, pangolins and sun bears.

“This restoration project comes at a critical time for the planet, it is clear humanity is not living in harmony with nature. 2020 has showed the increasingly severe impacts of climate change and human impact, with a global pandemic as well as the frequency and severity of natural disasters.  Sir David Attenborough’s latest production ‘A Life on Our Planet’ has served to highlight the need for urgent action and the inextricable link between biodiversity and human survival” said Cameron Kerr, Chief Executive at Taronga.

Over the past two years, the local teams have installed critical infrastructure such as a permanent base camp, deep well, and water tower. Fire protection and management has also been an important element of preparation. The park officers and local teams have planted more than 50 hectares across two sites to date with sights set on continued expansion. Community engagement is a unique part of the project, where local employment and income opportunities have been developed including hiring individuals with disabilities and engaging a local farmer group in the replanting. Local school and scout groups are getting involved as well.

“The restoration program is a model of global and local collaboration and inclusion that has the potential to benefit all for many years to come,” said Nina Fascione, Executive Director at IRF. “With fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left on Earth, it is critical that we maintain current habitats and restore those that have been lost.”

Trees should grow to maturity in just four or five years, providing food for rhinos and other wildlife. Birds are already returning to the area. Additional workers will be hired to harvest browse from mature trees to feed the rhinos at the nearby Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.

“A healthy ecosystem will provide food for humans and wildlife, protect against wildfires and improve the health of all,” said Kerr. “Taronga is proud to work with IRF as a long-standing partner in conservation and particularly excited to stand with local farmers and others in the community working to make a better future for wildlife and people.”

Taronga currently has a fundraising drive open to continue to fund this project for years to come. Visit the Taronga Website for more information:

More information is also available on IRF’s website at