Be part of a fascinating species conservation project in Borneo and become involved in preserving the impressive Sabangau Forest and protecting endangered wildlife! Leaving from your accommodation each day, a field camp in the green depths of the Sabangau Forest, you’ll make your way into the jungle and dedicate yourself to implementing various species conservation activities – always instructed by long-term experienced researchers. You’ll assist with wildlife and habitat monitoring surveys, forest restoration and environmental education in local villages around the forest. A highlight during your time as a conservation volunteer: a week-long expedition to one of the project’s satellite camps to carry out surveys for a better understanding of the deeper areas of the rainforest. Travel to Southeast Asia, discover Borneo’s flora and fauna in an incomparable way and acquire valuable new conservation knowledge surrounded by untouched nature.
The Sabangau Forest, located in Indonesia’s province Central Kalimantan, is one of the most important remaining rainforest areas in Borneo. This tropical peat-swamp forest as the largest unfragmented area of forest remaining in the island’s lowlands is home to globally-significant populations of endangered species, such as the Bornean orangutan and the white-bearded gibbon. Other animal life includes clouded leopard, sun bear, civets, sambar deer, water monitors, tree shrews, pythons and over 200 species of bird. The forest’s peat deposits cover an area of almost 6,000 km² and reach depths of 15 metres, making it one of the largest terrestrial carbon stores worldwide.
The volunteer programme begins and ends in the city of Palangka Raya. On the start date of the project you arrive at Tjilik Riwut Airport and get picked up by one of our partner’s team members. You will then spend two nights in the city of Palangka Raya, getting any last-minute supplies and learning about the project. On the third day after your arrival you will travel by car and boat to reach the research camp in the Sabangau Forest. After your arrival in the camp, you can meet the team and familiarize yourself with your accommodation before being introduced to the project’s tasks and important safety instructions for working and living in the rainforest.
During your time as a volunteer you fully immerse yourself into Borneo’s majestic Sabangau Forest, home to numerous endangered wild animals. Under the instruction of experienced researchers, you work hand in hand with other international volunteers. Together with your team you venture into the forest each day to carry out essential conservation activities and thus to protect the natural environment of Sabangau. You assist with wildlife and habitat monitoring surveys and become involved with forest restoration to preserve the forest’s original flora. In detail, your volunteer activities include primate behaviour and population surveys, camera trap surveys and insect monitoring. Moreover, you get to know certain restoration techniques that are implemented to strengthen the nature of peat-swamp forests. You may also help maintain our partner’s research facilities as they are essential for ongoing research and conservation work. Furthermore, your volunteer activities include assisting with environmental education in local villages around the Sabangau Forest.
As a highlight, you will join a week-long expedition to one of our partner’s remote satellite camps. Together with your team you explore the area and help conducting surveys to improve a better understanding of the deeper areas of the rainforest.
Having gained essential knowledge and valuable insights into real conservation work and the Bornean culture, you return home after four weeks of volunteer involvement.
During your time in the project you are will be accommodated in a field camp together with other volunteers. The camp is situated just inside the edge of the Sabangau Forest, approximately a one-hour drive and short boat ride from the provincial capital of Palangka Raya. The house consists of several buildings, including single-sex dormitory huts (equipped with mattresses), washing and toilet facilities, a kitchen and an office. You’ll be provided with three meals each day; water and hot drinks are available all the time. The meals in Palangka Raya will be at each volunteer’s own expense. In order to be able to contact friends and family at home, you should unlock your phone before when departing to Borneo and then buy an Indonesian SIM card after your arrival to use for phone calls and internet. The signal at camp is strong enough so you can write emails and use WhatsApp.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
As a volunteer you will have leisure time at camp. During your spare time you can play badminton or board games at camp, learn Indonesian, photograph wildlife or read. Sometimes there will be a projector so the team can watch films together.
The 600,000 hectare Sabangau Forest is the largest non-fragmented lowland rainforest remaining in Borneo. It supports the largest population of Bornean orangutans and other endangered species, making it a priority site for conservation. In 1994 the Natural Laboratory of Peat-Swamp Forest was created to protect and study this unique ecosystem, and in 2004 Sabangau was declared a National Park.
The Sabangau peatland, reaching a thickness of 15m under the forest, is a carbon store of global importance. If peat is dried, cut or cleared, it becomes susceptible to fire, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.
Tropical peat-swamp forests have many natural resource functions and cultural benefits. They regulate local hydrology, acting as reservoirs of water during the wet season and providing breeding grounds for fish. Aside from fishing, the forest provides sustainable employment and income for people collecting rattan and tapping rubber.