In 2004, led by Wehea Chief Ledije Taq, the Wehea Dayak community of Borneo banded together and declared 38,000 hectares of their rainforest a “locally protected forest,” the Wehea Forest. A team of local people, named the Forest Guardians, are responsible for patrolling and protecting this forest, which is home to orangutans, sun bears, and clouded leopards. The community’s efforts have been awarded Indonesia’s highest environmental honor & Chief Taq was personally awarded a conservation medal in 2009 from the Indonesian President.
Despite their success, the Wehea Forest faces an uncertain future. An advancing coalmine and palm oil plantations threaten the integrity of the forest. These industries pay workers far more than the Wehea Forest can, and in recent months these companies have begun drawing away some of the most highly skilled Forest Guardians. They would rather work in the forest, but most live at or below the poverty level and must choose higher salaries to better support their families.
We aim to raise enough money to increase ranger salaries (currently at $5/day) to a level competitive with local coal and palm oil companies. This will allow the Wehea Protected Forest to stop losing trained rangers while we look for a more long-term funding solution.
In December of 2011, RuckusRoots answered the important question, what do lipstick and orangutans have in common? We collaborated with Ethical Expeditions to raise almost $5K to protect the rainforest in Borneo and created an attendee-inspired art piece out of /recycled lipstick (thanks to artist Dave Wescott). Most cosmetics contain palm oil, a major contributor to deforestation in Southeast Asia.