The first-ever species inventory of the peat swamp forests of the Kampar Peninsula has been completed and published by the Riau Ecosystem Restoration Programme (RER).

The work was the result of nearly eight months spent in the field – described in the report, as “one of the most physically challenging and inhospitable environments on this planet” – by a dedicated survey team from RER’s partner organization, Fauna & Flora International (FFI). 

The inventory covered woody and non-woody plant species, and mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species. It revealed that 43 species present are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.

Three of the four Ecosystem Restoration Concessions (ERC) licensed to APRIL in the Kampar Peninsula by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry are included in the report “Biodiversity of the Kampar Peninsula”. The fourth concession will be inventoried this year. 

A set of 32 transects and 220 camera trap stations were set up across the three concessions to allow the FFI team to capture not only information on species but also some extraordinary images. 

The inventory recorded 72 species of mammals including confirming the presence, recorded by camera traps, of five of Sumatra’s six cat species. Fifteen of the 72 mammal species recorded are globally threatened with two  -- the Sumatran Tiger and Sunda Pangolin -- listed as Critically Endangered.

The Sumatran Tiger was the only one of Sumatra’s four megafauna (large mammals) that was found. The report points out that, of the other three, the Sumatran Elephant rarely uses peat swamp habitats but that the Sumatran Rhinoceros and Malayan Tapir do -- and that future surveys may reveal their presence.

The plant inventory recorded 112 tree species and 40 non-tree species; the bird inventory 220 bird species from 53 families; and the amphibian and reptile inventories 14 and 61 species respectively.

Among the ten turtle species present, the Malaysian Giant Turtle and Painted Terrapin are officially protected in Indonesia and the report stated that “the presence of both these species in this area is of great conservation significance, both of which are highly endangered species.” The report added that: “large numbers of Malaysian Giant Turtle were seen trapped by locals, and also accidentally caught in fishing nets. These turtles are consumed and sold locally.”

The long-term aim of the inventories is to help establish an ecological baseline for creating a comprehensive management plan to ensure the long-term protection and restoration of the ecosystem restoration concessions as an integral part of the entire Kampar Peninsula.

The RER programme was established by APRIL in 2013 as part of the company’s commitment to conserve and restore one hectare of native forest for every hectare of plantation. The RER programme is a not-for-profit partnership between business and NGOs. RER aims to protect and restore a 130,000-ha area of peat swamp forest on the Kampar Peninsula, one of the largest remaining areas of peat swamp forest in Riau province. APRIL has made a US$100 million commitment to support biodiversity conservation and community development through Ecosystem Restoration licenses. 

FFI Asia-Pacific Director Dr. Tony Whitten said: “The Kampar Peninsula has been largely undocumented by scientists, and little is known about the ecology and biological diversity of its peat swamp forest, rivers and lakes. A comprehensive understanding of its ecological character is a prerequisite to managing the peninsula in the best possible and pragmatic way. Therefore, the first task was to conduct extensive surveys to gather baseline data on the area.”

View the full report here.