Saving Wallace’s Forests

Buton Island, Indonesia, supports one of the largest tracts of lowland rainforest remaining in Wallacea; the biodiversity ‘hotspot’ that inspired Alfred Russell Wallace’s evolutionary theories. However, these forests continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate. The Wallacea Trust is applying for $20 million in REDD+ funding to ensure the long-term integrity of Buton’s forests, supporting alternative livelihood projects that will remove the economic incentives driving deforestation.

Current funding requirements: £10,000 to fund application submission

"If this is not done, future ages will certainly look back upon us as a people so immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be blind to higher considerations"

Alfred Russel Wallace "The Malay Archipelago" (1863)

Buton Island, South-east Sulawesi, boasts one of the largest areas of lowland rainforest remaining anywhere within the Wallacean biodiversity ‘hotspot’. These forests are remarkable for the number of species they support; 83% of terrestrial mammals, 48% of birds and 55% of butterflies found here are found nowhere else on Earth. The Buton forests also store vast reservoirs of carbon – over 100 million metric tons – which would otherwise be contributing to global warming, and provide invaluable ecosystem services such as crop pollination and flood prevention to the people who live nearby. However, despite their importance, the forests of Buton continue to be destroyed and degraded at an alarming rate, with approximately 1200 hectares lost every year.

The Wallacea Trust aims to reduce deforestation on Buton by securing $20 million of conservation funding from Indonesia’s REDD+ program. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is an international scheme backed by the United Nations that aims to mitigate global climate change by preventing the destruction of forests and thus protecting their immense carbon stocks. It also aims to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with these priority ecosystems.

Thanks to more than 15 years of survey data from the Buton forests donated by Operation Wallacea, the Wallacea Trust has access to a regionally unparalleled dataset which provides evidence of their high carbon stocks and irreplaceable biological value. Workling alongside our project partners CARE International, our application to REDD+ aims to establish a series of alternative livelihood projects within communities identified as being most reliant on deforestation activities. These projects include micro-financing initiatives and the importing of new crop types and crop processing facilities. Our ultimate goal is to remove the economic incentives which are the driving force of deforestation within Buton’s irreplaceable forest ecosystems.

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