AEON has agreed to invest RM500, 000 for the five year duration. This funding will cover approximately 80 hectares and will support the planting of fast-growing tree species, many of which will provide food for local fauna, including one of NUS’s main priorities, the orang-utan.
Based on the aerial survey conducted by WWF-Malaysia in 2005-2006, North Ulu Segama is one of the key habitats for Orang-Utans. It was discovered that in 2007, the Orang-Utan population has been decreasing at an alarming rate, due to the poor conditions in the forest from heavy logging and frequent forest fires.
With the agreement between AEON and WWF-Malaysia, it is with anticipation that upon the completion of the project, there will be a healthy forest canopy within the sponsored 80 ha for Orang-Utans to roam freely and build nests with abundant food.
The Orang-Utan is also considered a keystone species. They play a critical role in lowland rainforests as they significantly affect the existence of the forest as well as other species. An evaluation of where there is concentrated amount of Orang-Utans in different rainforest areas in Sumatra and Borneo shows the biodiversity of plant and wildlife species at its peak.
As an animal of fruit eaters and travelers, Orang-Utans play the role of forest regeneration where seeds are transferred from one area to another. This helps sustain the diversity of rainforest growth. Therefore, the protection of their species is important to the overall health of the lowland forest ecology in which they survive upon. In turn, the Orang-Utan population will only survive if their forest home is kept largely intact.
It is vital to preserve the forest not only for wildlife but also, as it is now widely recognized, for protecting the Earth from climate change. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere through trees and other plants through their natural process of photosynthesis. This procedure allows flora to store CO2 as carbon in their biomass (trees, leaves, roots, etc.) and surrounding soils. This creates a need for the trees in forests to act as natural “sinks” that help mitigate climate change.
AEON Co. (M) Bhd in collaboration with WWF-Malaysia hopes to spread the significance and value of rehabilitating the orang-utan’s population and look forward to sustain this project for a long time