Half way through the four-year term of the Harapan Rainforest climate change mitigation project in the Indonesian rainforest, high-ranking international representatives from political institutions, the private sector and non-governmental associations visited the species-rich project region on the island of Sumatra. The visiting party included Dr. Rudolf Specht from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), representatives from the German Embassy and Olaf Tschimpke, President of the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union NABU, along with project participants and promoters from the United Kingdom and Singapore and representatives of the responsible Indonesian authorities. Apart from a formal reception and a joint tree-planting event, the main focus of the visit was an appraisal of the project work carried out to date.
Since the end of 2009 the BMU has supported the Harapan Rainforest project with more than 7.5 million euros from International Climate Initiative (ICI) funds provided via KfW Entwicklungsbank. In a partnership arrangement with NABU and its British BirdLife partner the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Indonesian rainforest foundation Yayasan KEHI is working to restore destroyed habitats and ensure effective, long-term protection of the species-rich forest. As a contribution to preserving the forest and restoring it to its natural state as an important carbon sink, a number of nurseries have now been established where up to three million saplings will be grown this year. This will allow the replanting of over 2,700 hectares of degraded rainforest. To achieve that, more than 170 'green jobs' have been created for the local population in the field of forest conservation. Some communities are operating their own nurseries in the project area. There are also two mobile schools for the indigenous population, and a doctor to provide them with medical care.
The Harapan Rainforest is one of the first areas in Indonesia to be earmarked for ecosystem restoration. As a pilot project it can serve as a model for a further 24 million hectares of tropical forest in Indonesia that are currently neither actively managed nor protected. The project region is larger than Berlin, covering an area of roughly 1,000 square kilometres, and is home to innumerable species of flora and fauna at risk of extinction, including the Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran elephant, the Malayan tapir and the Storm's stork, the rarest species of stork in the world. The restoration and protection of this region is intended to save around 10 to 15 million tonnes of CO2 in the course of 30 years.