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Rainforest restoration a step closer

26 February 2020

Kinabatangan

A Cardiff University carbon-offsetting project has reached more than £15,000 in donations just four months after launching.

Regrow Borneo gives staff, students and members of the public the opportunity to balance the carbon created from necessary air travel.

It was created by the University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute and the Danau Girang Field Centre, which is based in the Kinabatangan rainforest in Malaysia.

A recommended donation map gives flyers an idea of the amount to donate, ranging from £10 to £130.

All donations support tree planting in the Lower Kinabatangan rainforest, Borneo – an area of extreme beauty but one that is under increasing pressure from climate change and human activities.

When it launched in October 2019, Regrow Borneo set itself a target of £15,000 which it hoped to raise over a 12-month period.

Donations have already surpassed that figure, and to date, Regrow Borneo has raised a total of £16,521.

Dr Benoit Goossens, from the Danau Girang Field Centre said: “While reducing air travel is vital, we know that some flights are unavoidable. Regrow Borneo – which is the first project of its kind at a UK university - provides an opportunity for individuals taking necessary flights to offset their travel."

Professor Benoit Goossens

We are surprised at how quickly we have reached our target, and we are encouraged that people are considering their impact on the environment and how Regrow Borneo can help mitigate their actions.

Professor Benoît GoossensDirector, Danau Girang Field Centre, Professor

Replanting in the Kinabatangan rainforest using the donations will start in May or June, after the rainy season.

Dr Goossens added: “Based in the Danau Girang Field Centre, we have seen first-hand the devastation caused by palm oil, illegal logging and environmental catastrophe.

“Deforestation has fragmented the forest, reducing the available habitat for endangered species such as the orangutan, proboscis monkey and the Bornean elephant.

“Tropical forests are extremely effective at taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it as wood or in the soil. We hope our planting will help restore this crucial environment.”

Community organisations, such as The Batu Puteh Community Ecotourism Co-operative (KOPEL) and HUTAN, will be responsible for planting and maintaining trees on appropriate sites.

Donors will be able to follow the pathway of their donation and will be provided with updates on the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere, as well as other social, environmental and economic impacts.

Dame Judi Dench, Ambassador for Regrow Borneo said: “Having visited Borneo last year, I’m so proud to be part of the Regrow Borneo programme. It is wonderful and necessary work, and may I reiterate again how proud I am to be a part of it.”

Alongside the planting, academics from Cardiff University will be researching the project’s carbon capture, assessing its efficacy and impact on the Kinabatangan rainforest. Their work will inform Regrow Borneo as it develops.

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The centre is a collaborative research and training facility based in Sabah, Malaysia.