Host Country Volunteer Shriya: “Regenerating the rainforest is a gradual process. It really makes me treasure our natural resources so much more.”

13th April 2018

Host Country Volunteer Shriya spent her second project allocation in a Natural Resource Management project in the east of Sabah. She reflects on her time on project and the importance of preserving and regenerating tropical rainforests.

The Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC), located near Lahad Datu in the east of Sabah, is a forest regeneration site spanning 224 hectares. The aim of TRCRC is to rehabilitate and regenerate a fresh new tropical rainforest canopy. In the past, the land here has been illegally deforested and used as an area for palm oil plantations. The local authorities reclaimed the land and gave the rights of the land to TRCRC for 99 years.

Raleigh Borneo has joined forces with TRCRC, continuing the partnership of four previous expeditions, to collaborate with them in meeting their objectives.

Shriya and TRCRC ranger Jeff apply the finishing touches of soil to a new native tree, that will erupt forth into the canopy for the next century

In just a week of work, together we have successfully planted over 100 trees. The type of tree we are planting are a native pioneer species which means they grow at a faster rate than other species. These trees will grow quickly to provide a lush canopy to provide a shadier and a more suitable climate for the lower levels of under canopy growth in the tropical rainforest. The saplings are sourced externally and brought to TRCRC to be germinated, nursed and planted. The trees we are currently planting are sourced from Tawau, in Southern Sabah. These particular saplings have been in the care of TRCRC staff for four years. Now Raleigh volunteers have the privilege of planting the saplings and providing these them with their first taste of the natural land. Once planted, the saplings will take around seven months before their roots are stable.

Raleigh Volunteers are also working in the plant nurseries to aid the transferring of endangered trees from smaller polybags to larger ones in order to provide more space for their roots and shoots to expand to ensure increased prosperous growth for these saplings. We are also helping to make and stamp print over 800 pieces of aluminium tags. This will significantly help the TRCRC staff to identify individual trees and help to easily monitor their growth over the next couple of decades.

The heroic Alpha 4 team discuss where to strategically place a rainforest

We have learnt that regenerating the rainforest is a gradual process. One of the largest learning points from this project for me personally has been how valuable trees are to us. They provide us with clean air and offset our growing carbon footprint as development increases. Also, the rainforest is a hub for biodiversity with millions of different plant and animal species that call Bornean rainforests home sweet home. Most importantly, the time and effort it takes for a full rainforest to be grown is immense. The depletion of rainforests is occurring at high rates nowadays and has a greater negative impact than you would first expect. Millions of years of growth and life removed in an instant. Our work here in TRCRC is directly impacting on preserving and restoring these environments and their inhabitants. It really makes me treasure our natural resources so much more.

There is hope for the rainforest, and it goes by the name of Alpha 4


Words by Host Country Volunteer Shriya.

Photography by Daniel Buttifant.

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