Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia (BOS)

“Orangutans are gardeners of the forest and maintain the health of the forest ecosystem.”

In this blog, Lina explains why Flat Friends supports BOS - Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia.


We believe for a charity to be sustainable and make a difference, it is important for it to have the support of the local community and government.

BOS helps provide the local community with an alternative way to earn an income and has the support of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

Orangutans are gardeners of the forest playing a vital role in seed dispersal and maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem. Extensive destruction of the rainforest has resulted in an estimated 50,000 orangutans left in the wild, with up to 6,000 disappearing every year. Without a serious effort to help this precious species, they will be most likely extinct within the next 10-30 years.

How did BOS start out? In 1989, Dr Willie Smits, a tropical forest ecologist and senior advisor to the Minister of Forestry of Indonesia, was struck by “the saddest eyes” when he encountered a baby female orangutan in a cage. He later found her in a rubbish heap and saved her life, leading him to helping other orangutans, and in 1991 the “Balikpapan Orangutan Society” was founded. In 1994 it became known as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS).



BOS set up a "Create Rainforest" initiative where donors can symbolically adopt square metres of rainforest.

Dr Willie Smits believes that empowering local communities to take up livelihood options that are more rewarding than logging is the solution to rebuild the rainforest and increase the habitat for the orangutan. BOS has successfully introduced new forms of farming that does not involve burning and destroying forests, and it provides the local community with a new way to support itself on the land.


To finance the nature reserve, BOS set up a system of "land-purchasing", a "Create Rainforest" initiative where donors can symbolically adopt square metres of rainforest and are able to view and follow the progress of their "purchase" in the project area with Google Earth satellite images.

The use of satellite technology and GIS have enabled Sarvison to monitor forests down to the individual tree level, to develop accountability in the management of the forest and identify where palm oil plantations are illegally destroying large areas of forest.

Samboja Lestari is a reforestation project on nearly 2,000 hectares of deforested, degraded and burnt land in East Kalimantan. In 2001, BOS started purchasing land near Wanariset. The area it acquired had been deforested by mechanical logging, drought and severe fires and was covered in ‘alang-alang’ grass. The aim was to restore the rainforest and provide a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans while at the same time establish a source of income for local people.


The name Samboja Lestari roughly translates as the "everlasting conservation of Samboja". Reforestation and rehabilitation is the core of the project, with hundreds of indigenous species planted. By the middle of 2006 over 740 different tree species had been planted; by 2009 there were 1200 species of trees, 137 species of birds and nine species of primates.

In his 2009 TED talk Dr Willie Smits claimed there had been a substantial increase in cloud cover and 30% more rainfall due to the reforestation at Samboja Lestari.

The Orangutan Reintroduction Project at Wanariset was moved to Samboja Lestari.

The Mawas area is home to one of the last tracts of forest supporting wild orangutans. An estimated 3,000 wild orangutans are found in this area. Mawas is also important for its biodiversity, and the geological conditions of the area make it a storage house of giga-tonnes of sequestered carbon. Over a period of 8,000 years, decaying plant matter from the swamp forests has built up 13–15 meter-high domes of peat.

In September 2003, the provincial parliament in Central Kalimantan approved a new land use plan that designated 500,000 hectares in the Mawas area to be managed by BOS for conservation. BOS is currently working in an area of about 280,000 hectares within the ex-Mega Rice Project area.

BOS has initiated a forest conservation project with the objectives of:

  • conserving peat swamp forest area and reforesting degraded areas;
  • preserving the bio-diversity of the area;
  • providing global greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits;
  • providing access to programs such as health and education;
  • improving incomes and building capacity and economic prosperity in local communities;
  • assisting communities in learning technical skills including aquaculture, rice cultivation, agro-forestry and farm development;
  • assisting local independence and self-sustaining livelihoods;
  • visiting schools to educate children on the environment and conservation practices;
  • providing community awareness programs as well as co-operative conservation programs.








Funds are required to help continue many of the BOS projects. An example of such a project is Nyaru Menteng founded by Drøscher Nielsen in 1998, which helps orphaned orangutans and has quickly become the largest primate rescue project in the world. As of 2009, there was around 700 orphaned and displaced orangutans in its care and 20 young orangutans arriving every month. The centre's running costs are around $1.5m a year.

Contact Details

If you would like to find out more about BOS, here are their details:

BOS Australia Administration
P.O. Box 3916
Mosman NSW 2088
Ph: +61-2-9011-5455
Find us on



Buy any of these 2 products to support BOS, Flat Friends will donate a percentage of the profit to Borneo Orangutan Surival Australia.