Orangutan Tree Project

Rebuilding forests, saving orangutans lives, and helping reduce climate change.

Tree Project

Field Conservation

For just $3 – the cost of a cup of coffee – you can help create a forest, a home to 500 orangutans.

Orangutan Tree Project is a partnership between You, GLOBIO and Yayasan IAR Indonesia, to create real-world change one tree at a time.

$3 Can Turn This....

Into this!

Over the next decade how You, GLOBIO, and Yayasan IARI will do that by…

  • Planting 750,000 tropical rainforest trees.
  • Giving 500 Orangutans and other unique species a new tropical rainforest home.
  • Employing local villagers to collect seeds, nurture seedlings, and plant and protect new forest.
  • Limiting climate changing by ensuring carbon stays sequestered beneath this new forest in the peat, not released into our atmosphere.
  • Trapping more carbon and other gases by growing 750,000 tropical rainforest trees.
  • Engaging people globally to learn and donate.

New Forest, New Home

Deforestation and fires across Borneo have stripped orangutans of their forest homes. That damage, is horrific, but not irreparable. One tree at a time we can rebuild the forest home of orangutans and safeguard damaging carbon from being released into the Earth’s atmosphere — and you play a critical part, by donating a tree, gifting a tree, or engaging your class or organization to take up the challenge. To give the forest and orangutans a fresh start, the Orangutan Tree Project will plant and nurture 12,500 seedlings per hectare each year to begin restoring what was lost. In total, the project will plant 750,000 native seedlings over the next 10 years.

The tropical peat swamp forest You help GLOBIO and Yayasan IARI build, in West Kalimantan Borneo, will restore over 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of native forest destroyed in the horrific fires of 2015 — A new forest, a new home to over 500 wild and orphaned Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans and other key species. This is peat swamp forest contains megatons of sequestered carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, contributing significantly to global climate change. Each tree costs just $3 US from seed to seedling. This includes protection for two years by dedicated Orangutan Tree Project team members, until the seedling reaches 2 meters (6-7 feet) tall and begins shading out invasive grasses.

Yayasan IARI is an Indonesian-based non-profit organization whose mission is to protect Bornean orangutans and other primates from suffering by rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing them back into their natural forest habitat, as well as to protect their natural habitats from deforestation. They also work within communities to educate and sensitize them to issues surrounding orangutan conservation. 

Currently, throughout Borneo/Sumatra, every area with wild orangutans has been affected by human activity to a degree, mostly through palm-oil production and other agricultural affairs. As the natural forests become more fragmented, so too does the health of the orangutan population, which requires significant habitat for mating and genetic diversity. The Orangutan Tree Project will help restore and rejuvenate some of this critical forest, while providing employment for dozens of local community members. 

Total GLOBIO Trees Planted

OTP News Updates

Earth Day Turns Fifty: A Gift of Trees

Earth Day Turns Fifty: A Gift of Trees

Earth Day biodiversity

Sunlight pours into the tropical forest with unflickering regularity. That consistency insures a light and humidity needed to power the richness of biodiversity and related ecosystem services we are only now beginning to understand.


A low humid fog hangs over the river, shrouding the tops of the surrounding rainforest, an invisible bathing of microdroplets. This morning the river world is a monochrome grey-green, the sunrise still a half-hour away. Across from the tired wooden dock a pair of hornbills, in grey silhouette, glide in slow motion between treetops. Dockside, dozens tiny fist-sized black plastic-wrapped seedlings are being loaded into the boat. Their journey in reverse is about to begin. For each of these was a rainforest seed cast free four months ago in November, the return journey is more than a birth for themselves but a rebirth of an entire forest, resurrection of an entire ecosystem, from the ashes of a nightmare.

A year ago this month I made a return journey up the Deras River in southern West Kalimantan Borneo,

Deras River West Kalimantan, Borneo

Heading up the Deras River into the riverine tropical peat swamp forest of the Pematang Gadung Community Forest, West Kalimantan, Borneo Indonesia. Borneo has some the worlds highest biodiversity — unassuming peat swamp forests are a riot of diverse life.

it was the most Earth Day of days I can remember. I was sharing the boat with fifty native rainforest seedlings of a dozen types, and two members of Yayasan IAR Indonesia’s reforestation team. We were headed to a landscape ravaged by fire from the 2015 inferno that devastated Borneo and left 2.6 million hectares scorched, along with a toxic witches-brew of gases and smoke choking the global atmosphere unlike any in the history of human-caused disasters. In the fire’s wake the biodiversity of Borneo from microbes to orangutans was traumatized, and the services these tropical forests provide were catastrophically damaged.

Fifty years ago, on that first Earth Day, what its founders Denis Hayes and Senator Gaylord Perry were focused on was Ecosystems Services. They weren’t calling it that. It was another pair that same year, 1970, Paul Ehrlich and Rosa Weigert, that coined the term. But Hayes and Perry’s Earth Day was focused on raising the alarm about essential, primary, life-supporting services: air (quality), clean water, and loss of ecosystems to pollution and destruction. They could easily have just focused on trees, and more broadly tropical forests to meet many of their Earth Day goals.

Recognition of trees and their role in ecosystem services is nothing new to those wise enough to look. Plato, the Greek academic and philosopher (c. 400 BC), understood that deforestation could lead to soil erosion and the drying of springs, he vigorously counseled against it. Trees, by way of forests, have always been at the heart of ecosystems services.

Tropical tree seedlings for reforestation of peat swamp forest destroyed during the 2015 fires in Borneo. Eventually 750,000 seedlings will form the foundation for restoring the rich biodiversity of the Pematang Ganung Community Forest and home to nearly 500 Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans.

Trees reach their diversity zenith in the tropical forests of places like Borneo. My leafy traveling companions would someday form the architectural foundation and scaffolding of a tropical forest that will join a global botanical community vital to the survival of all life. Collectively, life of tropical forests are approximately two-thirds of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity and provide most Earth ecosystem services. The seedlings we carried that day would contribute to the biodiversity of Borneo — unrivaled on Earth — and insure critical ecosystems services.

UNseen Benefit of Trees

Fifty years ago the impacts of the human pollution juggernaut could be seen in the air, water and land. Much of the focus of that first Earth Day was on what everyone could see everyday in their own neighborhoods and cities — smog, litter and polluted water. In some cases it was the shock of what they had never seen before, like a year earlier when Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River burned, an entire nation and world noticed.

Fires have often reveal the unseen. In 2015 as the fires in Borneo torched vast areas of tropical rainforest much of the world turned a blind eye. What was revealed however was a landscape of peat exposed. Peat is sequestered carbon. Atmospheric carbon stored in the form of fallen leaves and twigs, branches and trunks. Peat below Borneo’s lowland rainforests is meters deep. Borneo accounts for over half the world’s stored tropical carbon: an estimated decade worth of carbon created by human actions (the burning of fossil fuels for example). The standing living trees of lowland tropical forests in Borneo protect this unseen carbon from returning to the atmosphere — helping mitigate climate change.

To truly celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day perhaps the party would best be hosted in a tropical forest, surrounded by trees. Because what we are fast learning is without protecting and reforesting these tropical forests we won’t be having many future celebrations of any kind.


GLOBIO’s Focus on Borneo

When asked why GLOBIO is focusing on trees reforestation in Borneo, one answer is simple: biodiversity. Between 1995 and 2010 over 600 species have been discovered – that is 3 species each and every month. At least 15,000 plants, of which 6,000 are found nowhere else in the world, can be found in the swamps, mangroves, and lowland and montane forests of the world’s third-largest island. By helping to restore the peat swamp tropical forest of Pematang Gadung through our Orangutan Tree Project we are taking a critical step in not just rebuilding the forest home of the critically endangered Bornean orangutan but a biodiversity unrivaled on Earth.



A Forest Is Taking Root!

A Forest Is Taking Root!

Thank you so much to everyone who has jumped in to help our Orangutan Tree Project take root. You have donated over 700 seedlings in just the first two months – fantastic!

We’re well on our way of reaching our initial goal of 2,000 seedlings by the end of 2019, and 12,500 in the first year.

The first of four steps towards that goal is going on right now — collecting forest seeds. Through November and December our team in Borneo is scouring neighboring intact rainforests collecting a mix of seeds. Seeds from over a half-dozen tropical

rainforest tree seedling from GLOBIO Borneo project

Young seedling awaiting its journey upriver to begin rebuilding tropical peat swamp rainforest.

trees will then be delivered to the care of local village women’s groups who will plant and nurture the seeds into three-month old, knee-high seedlings. Those young trees will leave the nursery and travel upriver to the landscape once ravaged by fire and left for dead. Their planting and protection by our team over the next two years insures their growth and survival. Two years of nurturing for just $3 a seedling — an insanely cheap investment connecting and protecting species, people and our planet.

When we launched the Orangutan Tree Project (September 2019) we had high hope that you would see it as a positive way of doing something real-world about saving orangutans, helping put the brakes on tropical rainforest loss and applying more than just words to our climate change challenge. Each and every tropical rainforest seedling planted by our partner Yayasan IAR Indonesia is a step towards greater stability for endangered Bornean orangutans and other species. The trees you are helping plant and protect at Pematang Gadung in West Kalimantan Borneo is a tremendous signal that we can change the fate of the forest and the life that resides within.


tropical peat swamp forest Borneo

Storing gigatonnes of carbon, tropical peat swamp forests in Borneo protect over half the world’s sequestered carbon beneath their roots from becoming part of the climate change problem. Their security depends on the maintaining the living forest.

“Peatlands cover only about three per cent of our planet’s land, but account for nearly half the world’s wetlands.” According to the United Nations Environmental Programme.* They store vast amounts of carbon—twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests.” Much of that three percent is found in the very Bornean tropical peat swamp forests that you are helping us protect and regenerate.

These trees are needed now more than ever. Fortunately, rains came before this year’s fires reached the devastating scale we saw in 2015. The rescue of orangutans by Yayasan IAR Indonesia was critical in August and September, and now we need to secure a new home for these rescued primates. The forest that grows from your seedlings will be part of their future. If you would like to be a part of this new and growing forest donate a seedling.

— Gerry Ellis


* https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/peatlands-store-twice-much-carbon-all-worlds-forests