Thank you for your generous contributions to support our conservation efforts in Borneo!

Here is our annual review of 2023:

Income and Allocations of Resources 2023

Last year (2023) can be considered a relatively successful year in terms of fundraising, resulting in a much better financial standing for RFF at year end. With a total of 661,000 € raised, we had the biggest yearly income ever. That is about four and a half times more than in 2022!

The income is mostly due to the very strong support from BOS Germany.

Contributions by individuals and members have also been unprecedented, with more than 70,000 € raised.

In 2023, expenditure was approximately 295,000 €. Ca. 89% of the allocated funds were directly used for restoration activities in Sabah, including project management and a camera trap study. 11% were used for administration, travel expenses, public relations, insurances, fees and other overhead costs.

RFF project map

Funds were used largely for the maintenance of far more than 20,000 planted seedlings on ca. 125 ha in our project sites in Tabin, Silabukan and Bukit Piton. In the degraded Bukit Piton Forest Reserve another 650 ha of overgrown trees were liberated and 4 new ponds for wildlife were created. Additionally, we partly financed a photovoltaic system for the power supply of a local community in our project area.

The map (right) showing protected forest (dark green), mangrove swamps (light green) and oil palm dominated landscape (grey). The yellow stars indicate RFF project sites.

Developments in 2023 and Plans for 2024

Expansion of Our Local Project Team and Improvement of Facilities

Thanks to better financial support we were able to increase the number of our local team in Sabah from 5 to 8 permanent employees. In 2024 the local team shall be further increased together with the growing project sites according to available funding. The more well trained, experienced and motivated people we recruit, the more degraded areas we can restore back to species-rich rainforest!

Early 2023 we moved into a bigger office at the Forest Research Centre, Sepilok, kindly provided by the Sabah Forestry Department for free. In Sepilok, the project also started renting a house to provide accommodation for some of the field staff.

In 2024 we plan to upgrade our provisional camps in our restoration sites in Tabin and Silabukan to field stations, to improve the working conditions of our field staff, and to be able to accommodate visitors to our project area.

Camera Trap Study

In 2023 we supported a student to set up camera traps on our oil palm restoration site in Tabin, on an adjacent active oil palm plantation and inside the adjacent forest to compare wildlife occurrence.

The results are not out yet. But the first evaluation of the thousands of pictures and direct sightings of wildlife already indicate that our work is worthwhile!

Already in 2012 we started the restoration of a small strip of degraded river banks (20m on both sides of the Tabin river), that was for a long time the only protected connectivity on dry land between Tabin and other conservation areas. In this far too narrow forest corridor over a period of nearly a decade, we noticed only very view species actually using it (mostly macaques, bearded pigs and elephants). With the acquisition and restoration of the adjacent oil palm area since 2020, we managed to extend the width of the corridor to 800m and the situation changed tremendously.

Since then, we recorded many endangered species using our corridor for the first time. Among them the nearly extinct Storm’s stork, sun bears, clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, red leaf monkeys, slow loris and a large male orangutan.

The new lake created in 2022 is expected to significantly increase the attractiveness of our project site for wildlife as well.

New Restoration Site in Silabukan

Early this year we will start a new restoration project in the southwest of Silabukan, in addition to our existing restoration sites in the southeast of Silabukan. For now we intend to restore forest on an area of 26 ha that has been illegally cleared for oil palm plantations. The project is planned to be extended in the future to eventually cover all encroached areas and to prevent further deforestation in Silabukan through our presence on the ground.

Further Land Acquisitions

We are currently negotiating with several owners of essential land parcels in the Tabin-Kulamba Wildlife Corridor area. At the moment we only have a small part of the funding needed to acquire and restore all crucial areas, but enough to realize further acquisitions by this year.

We hope that we can significantly extend the corridor at two bottlenecks in 2024. Therefore, we urgently need further financial support!

Tabin River

Picture right: the since 2012 restored river bank of Tabin river (1). Iin 2012 the river bank above the lake was still treeless. On the left you can see a part of the 2,300 ha of forest (2) that we managed to save. Below the river you can see a part of the acquired area (3) with the lake (4) created in 2022 and pastures (5) for elephants etc.. Under the oil palm canopy ten thousands of young trees grow on 50 ha (partly wild, partly planted). The plantation areas above the river (6) shall be acquired to be restored and integrated with Tabin (more funding required!). This would extend the corridor from 800m to 2,000m. Further crucial plantation areas are currently for sale and should be secured a.s.a.p. before being lost for conservation!

Extension of Project Sites in Bukit Piton

In cooperation with the Sabah Forestry Department and a Malaysian company we are currently discussing a new project to liberate overgrown trees on a larger scale and to extend our “wildlife oasis” in Bukit Piton.

With it new ponds combined with pastures are planned to be created and many new trees shall be planted (with a focus in ficus species) to improve the habitat and to increase the carrying capacity for wildlife in this limited area. Also for Bukit Piton we hope that we will make it one day to overcome its isolation by acquiring more land to integrate it with other conservation areas in the landscape.

Meanwhile we try to make the best of it!

Good Media Coverage in 2023

Last year our degree of fame has increased significantly. Following articles about us were published in 2023 (mostly in English):

In Oktober 2023 we also received live on German TV the award Goldene Henne in the category “Our Future”

New Partnership

End of 2023 after intensive discussions we formalized a new cooperation with another partner organization. We now look forward to working together with Nepada Wildlife e.V. to preserve endangered species and to restore and connect more habitats!

Many, many thanks for all your support!

The RFF Team