If you’ve visited a rainforest, you’ll know they are amazing places. The sights, sounds and smells are vibrant and fascinating. Did you know, though, that the smell of a rainforest is an important component of making rainfall? Yes, you read that correctly!
Rainforests are vital in producing rain because of their role in evapotranspiration, where water moves from the Earth’s surface into the atmosphere. Rain is a product of condensation, but to produce each drop of rain, water molecules need something to condense on. These surfaces can include pollen, salts and ice crystals – and, in the rainforest, volatile organic scent compounds released by leaves. Is there anything rainforests can’t do if we look after them?
Thank you for helping to look after some of the world's most important forests by supporting this project.
Orangutans are sometimes referred to as ‘gardeners of the forest’ because of their role in seed-dispersal (they spread seeds in their dung). Seed dispersal is vital for the health of rainforests, so as much as orangutans need forests, the forests need them too.
New research shows that the loss of large animals such as orangutans and elephants from ecosystems has a huge impact on plants’ ability to respond to climate change. Larger animals transport seeds further than smaller ones, which helps mitigate the effects of the changing climate on plant species by enabling them to migrate. Losing this function by losing orangutans and other large seed-dispersing animals threatens not only the plants themselves, but the things we rely on them for, such as carbon storage and food production. This highlights how vital it is to conserve intact rainforest as well as rewilding degraded areas.
Buffer zones enhance the protection of areas like national parks by creating a transition from fully protected land to land with no restrictions on resource use, and can also reduce issues like conflict between humans and wildlife. This makes buffer zones an important tool for conserving intact rainforest - like the forest in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra.
This year, our partner organisation Nature For Change is overseeing thirteen different community nurseries, enabling over 50 families to receive extra income by planting native fruit trees around the national park. This bolsters the buffer zone and also means that the families involved won't need to supplement their income by selling their land to agriculture companies who might encroach on the forest.
Thank you for your continued support to keep irreplaceable habitats safe.
One of our partner organisations, Nature for Change, helps create income streams for farmers by enabling them to plant fruit trees with high-value crops so that they don't need to take timber from the forest to earn money. In addition to this, they are also encouraging goat and duck farming. Darma, Nature for Change's founder, has donated the land behind his house so that members of the local community can keep their goats and ducks there and eventually benefit from the income they get from selling milk and eggs.
But what does this have to do with conserving intact forests?
When farmers have just one or two food crops or agricultural products, their income is at higher risk. Producing a wider range of crops or products – known as agricultural diversification – provides farmers with a more stable income and better living standards, and enables sustainable use of natural resources.
In the context of conserving intact forest for orangutans and other species, providing farmers around the Leuser buffer zone with a diverse range of income streams means they are less likely to need to fall back on logging or on expanding their fields into the forest.
Thank you for continuing to support this vital work.
People around the world recently celebrated World Wildlife Day. This year's theme was "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet", chosen by the UN as a chance to highlight the vital role of forests and forest species in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world - especially indigenous people or those who live locally to forests.
For the SOS team, it's an especially significant theme as it also encourages the celebration of conservation models which consider humans and their wellbeing alongside the protection of forests and forest wildlife.
Led by our Conservation Director, Koen, we are currently working on our conservation strategy for 2021 onwards, and while we have always championed projects which involve communities, the links between forests and people will be even more central to our new plans. Forest loss continues in some parts of Sumatra and is driven by factors including food insecurity, so we know that analysing this and working to improve it is vital if we are to keep conserving intact rainforests and making sure they have a long-term future.
I look forward to sharing more detail about our strategy and the projects it feeds into throughout 2021. Thank you for all the support you give us. You are keeping rainforests safe.
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