The quest for Tembak!

The quest for Tembak

I just received some pictures from Dudung, our director of the Sintang Orangutan Centre in the heart of Borneo, after he reached an area with telephone signal again. He was returning from Tembak where we have an orangutan forest school and many other projects together with the local population. Even though the physical distance is only 80 kilometers the road condition is extremely difficult. A technique used by many oil palm associated persons is to make or keep access for local people very difficult until they sell their lands for oil palms…

Palm oil plantations produce massive amounts of CO2

The oil palm plantations also lead to the disappearance of so-called peat domes. These are thick layers of organic material that once exposed to air and oil palm related fertilizer decompose quickly. As a result they produce vast amounts of greenhouse gases while losing up to 20 cm of peat every year. That then again leads to more severe and more frequent flooding. This is also damaging river systems and the services they provide to local people. The pictures Dudung sent show what that really means in practical terms and how it impacts our work for the orangutans and people in Tembak and increases our operational expenditures.

the quest for Tembak
Dudung taking a selfie while going through a flooded part of the road to Tembak. Under this river of mud is a track with deep gullies, making it very hazardous for our staff to go through. Only motorbikes can make it through hear with great difficulty and high risk.
the quest for Tembak
On the left the last oil palm plantations. This is where the road quality immediately changes! From here our convoy to bring supplies for both the orangutans and the local people can no longer use our VSA sponsored terrain vehicle. Only when we reach the now isolated Tembak region some local cars can help us again.
the quest for Tembak
Just before reaching Tembak and the orangutan forest school there are still some very difficult hills to pass, especially after some rain! The maintenance costs for cars and motorbikes is very high and the transport from Sintang to Tembak can at the moment take more than 7 hours…
the quest for Tembak
Once we get close to Tembak we finally receive some help from the local car that can only operate in the isolated village.

Willie Smits
4th of march 2019