Study Identifies Climate-Resilient Trees to Help Orangutan Conservation

The IUCN has identified tree species that are resilient to deepening drought and fires brought on by climate change in Indonesian Borneo. The species will be used for government-backed forest restoration efforts in a national park that has been severely degraded by human settlement and forest fires.

The ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s Kutai National Park forests threatens the survival of the critically endangered East Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus morio), representing the largest population of orangutans in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo.

The park is also home to the rare Miller’s grizzled langur (Presbytis hosei canicrus) that was thought to be extinct less than 10 years ago. “Increasing drought and fires caused by a warming climate are important emerging threats to species-rich areas such as Kutai National Park,” said Alan Lee, lead author of the study and member of the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group. “Selecting climate-resilient tree species can help protect the park and the orangutan populations it shelters from the impacts of climate change.” Female and infant orangutan in Kutai National Park. The morio orangutans of east Borneo are usually much darker than their Sumatran cousins. Image by Orangutan Project Kutai.

The study, funded through the Indianapolis Zoological Society, aimed to single out native plants that could provide food and habitat for threatened orangutans. Jamie Carr, a conservation biologist at the University of Leeds and IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group member, told Mongabay that until relatively recently the park was written off as a conservation disaster.…

Source: Conservation news

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