In 2017, Rainforest Trust expanded its global reach and worked in Australia for the first time. With 150,486 acres protected across Asia, the conservation organization made huge strides forward to protect critical habitat and endangered species.
A great accomplishment was the protection of the 44,726-acre Caloola property on the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. This was the largest land purchase that Rainforest Trust has supported and remarkably, this property is almost entirely undisturbed habitat. The Caloola property strategically creates a permanent connection among a vast network of protected areas that spans over 700,000 acres. The area contains 28 regional ecosystems, 20 of which have low or no representation in the Australian protected area network. Water for Cooktown is sourced from the Annan River that runs beside the Caloola property. The presence of a very significant population of the Endangered Northern Quoll has been confirmed on the protected area, as well as Bennett’s Tree Kangaroos and several Vulnerable and Near Threatened bat species.
In addition to supporting its Australian partner in the purchase of the Caloola property, the conservation groups also helped create the 173.5-acre Misty Mountain Nature Reserve. This site now functions as a wildlife corridor and safeguards the remaining missing link to complete a nearly 3 million-acre high priority rainforest mosaic in Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. While this region has been a national priority, the high altitude rainforests on volcanic basalt have been very extensively cleared and are highly fragmented. Connecting the remaining areas was essential for the long term survival of many charismatic rainforest species within Queensland.
Rainforest Trust also worked to expand the Daintree National Park. The Daintree Rainforest is among the oldest rainforests on Earth and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia. Because of the Daintree’s unique evolutionary history and wealth of wildlife, it has been declared a Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, with Daintree National Park lying at the center of protection efforts. However, encroaching housing development around the park’s borders threatens to fragment forests and disrupt wildlife through human traffic and the introduction of exotic plants. Purchasing and securing private properties in this area has helped reduce the risk of habitat fragmentation and consolidates protected areas within the Daintree.
In the Philippines, Rainforest Trust and a local partner established a refuge for the Critically Endangered Palawan Forest Turtle, one of the 25 most threatened turtle species in the world. 2,413 acres were designated by the municipal government of Mendoza, and Rainforest Trust is working diligently with its partner to expand this protection to total 4,552 acres. Rainforest Trust also worked with another local partner to establish the Hibusong Wildlife Sanctuary of 1,390 acres on the biodiverse island of Dinagat. The sanctuary is the first in a series of four new protected areas that will comprise more than 17,800 acres in the coming year to secure forest and coastal habitat. Dinagat Island is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area, with numerous threatened species such as the Golden-crowned Flying Fox, Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and the Dinagat Moonrat. Before the sanctuary was established by Rainforest Trust and its partner, there were no protected areas on Dinagat.
In Malaysia, Rainforest Trust permanently protected a 34,414-acre former logging concession in the last great forests of Northern Borneo. This vital habitat for Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutans and Sunda Pangolins is now incorporated into the Kuamut Forest Reserve, which safeguards the last vulnerable flank of the pristine forest of the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area.
Rainforest Trust also supported a land purchase to create a critical wildlife corridor in Borneo to secure a safe passage for Pygmy Elephants. This project with a local partner protects the Kinabatangan Corridor which links two wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage along the northern banks of the Kinabatangan River, one of Malaysia’s most beautiful rainforest wetlands. This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more urgent. Now a lifeline for Pygmy Elephants, the new protected area is frequented by other imperiled wildlife such as Sun Bears, Clouded Leopards and Bornean Ground-cuckoos. The corridor’s benefits even extend to the local community, conserving traditional fishing grounds and providing ecotourism opportunities to support their livelihoods.
In Indonesia, Rainforest Trust and a local partner conserved vital nesting grounds for the Endangered Maleo in northern Sulawesi. As one of Asia’s most iconic birds, Maleos build mounds to incubate their eggs through volcanic and solar-heated sand in large colonial nesting grounds, a natural spectacle that leaves the eggs exceptionally vulnerable to harvesting. With a nearly 90 percent decline in population size since 1950, it is estimated that fewer than 5,000 of these birds remain in the wild. These 316 acres secured by Rainforest Trust and its local partner will contribute to the overall project which will form a 47,328-acre protected area of nesting sites, coastal habitat, forest conservation area and agroforestry buffer zone.
In the Republic of Palau, Rainforest Trust supported a crucial land purchase to save Endangered Megapodes. The reserve is the first private land converted to a protected area on the island of Peleliu, and it protects a vital foraging area for the Micronesian Scrubfowl, known locally as the Micronesian Megapode. The site also contains a famous WWII memorial, as it is notoriously the location of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Pacific war.
In Myanmar, Rainforest Trust and a local partner created the 66,965-acre Kaydoh Mae Nyaw Wildlife Sanctuary which protects subtropical broadleaf forest and provides a safe haven for wildlife such as the Asian Elephant, Tiger, Dhole, Banteng, Phayre’s Leaf-monkey and two species of Pangolin – the Sunda and Chinese – both of which are Critically Endangered. Rainforest Trust’s local partner is ensuring that the protected area is managed by the indigenous community, and conservation efforts will focus on collaborative management and capacity building in the form of patrolling and law enforcement, protected area infrastructure and awareness programs. Community development and education programs as well as agricultural assistance and alternative livelihood programs ensure ongoing community commitment to conservation.
Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making these projects a success.
For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.