The first Green Life reserve was established in 2009 on the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park, in the Bohorok district of North Sumatra. The site of the reserve was chosen because large scale deforestation in that region is threatening the Sumatran tiger population. Initially comprising just 5 hectares, the reserve has expanded to cover 92.5 hectares of land on two sites just a few hundred metres apart. Camps have been built on both sites for the use of local employees and overseas volunteers. The Green Life reserve is regularly patrolled and acts as a barrier for the National Park against the illegal encroachment of poachers, loggers and plantations. The reserve is situated in lowland forest; a habitat that is easy to access and that has therefore suffered the most damage.
The maps below show the position of the reserve in Sumatra.
As land and funds become available, the long term goal is to own the land west of the rivers Berkail and Sekelam, creating a natural border for the park and its wildlife. This land has been logged in the past and some of it has since become secondary forest, far less biodiverse than primary forest but providing vital habitat for many animals.
Our policy with new land is to remove monoculture crops such as rubber, leaving only a few mature trees and then let nature take control. The secondary rainforest formed in these areas has become new territory for tigers, orangutans and other rare animals. The area is monitored with camera traps and regular patrols to deter poaching.
The green shaded areas show the reserve sites GL1 and the smaller GL2 on the GLNP border.
The aim of the Green Life Project is to actively protect the rainforest and to increase awareness of the immediate need for conservation action. As part of this project, we run working holiday programs, accommodating the volunteers in cabins on the reserve.
There are camps on both reserve sites, with a total capacity of 16 people for each three week program. Each camp has a communal living area, a kitchen, cabins for sleeping and a separate compost toilet. Water for drinking, cooking and washing is taken from the streams and rivers.
Camp 1, as its name suggests, was our first camp. Situated on a steep slope in the forest, and now almost hidden by trees, it offers the most “jungle“ experience on the reserve. There are 3 cabins for volunteers with a maximum capacity of 3 per cabin, all equipped with sleeping mats and mosquito nets. There is another cabin for staff use and storage. The covered communal area offers an excellent view of the valley, the kitchen cabin is just below and further down the hill is a toilet cabin. To reach the river in the valley, there is a bamboo-edged stairway of around 200 steps. We originally built the cabins with traditional roofs of palm leaves but soon discovered that they leak unless regularly replaced. Unable to spend so much time on basic maintenance, we converted them to corrugated metal.
Views of Camp 1
Close to Camp 1 is an observation tower.
Away from the noise and activity of the group, it offers a better opportunity to view the many creatures that inhabit the canopy. At night it is a popular place for insect photography.
Orangutans can sometimes be seen from here when the fruit is ripe.
It is equipped with sleeping mats and mosquito nets for two people but there are no cooking facilities. Meals suitable for eating cold will be provided for anyone wanting to spend the night there.
The tower also had palm leaf roofing originally.
Camp 2 is situated in a clearing and has 4 cabins for volunteers, accommodating a maximum of 4 people in each, and a staff cabin. It has become our main camp as it is larger and more easily accessible than Camp 1; our weekly kitchen supplies are delivered here. There is a spacious communal area next to the kitchen cabin and a few metres away, a toilet cabin. The land here had previously been cleared and burned by illegal settlers. We built cabins around the edge of the level ground and keep this area clear with the aid of push mower. The surrounding area was allowed to grow back naturally.
Views of Camp 2
The French cabin is on recently purchased land north of Camp 1, close to the GLNP border. Named by local people after the nationality of its previous owner, we intend to use it as accommodation for rangers once the new toilet cabin is built.
Members of our organisation are on site all year round. Zbyněk Hrábek manages the reserve and is in touch with Milan Jeglík of NGO Forest For Children via internet and mobile. Members of our partner NGO Yayasan Hutan Untuk Anak also help with the reserve and with Tiger Commando. FFCh president Milan Jeglík and vice-president Zuzana Koloušková stay on the reserve from December until the end of March and from June until September running the volunteer program.
Residents of the Green Life reserve
Alongside a family of Sumatran tigers (male, female and 2 cubs), the Green Life reserve is also home to 5 families of Lar gibbon, 1 family of Siamang gibbon, several families of pig-tailed macaque, 6 families of langur, and when the fruit is ripe orangutans have been observed. Other sightings include Slow Loris, Sunda pangolins, monitor lizards, wild boars, muntjacs, porcupines, civets, 5 types of hornbill, many other species of birds, agamid lizards, frogs, snakes, and numerous insects. . In the vicinity are Malaysian bears, Sunda clouded leopards, Sumatran chamois, and sambar deer, and a day of brisk walking away, across the ridges live Sumatran elephants.
According to Indonesian agrarian law, land may only be owned by Indonesians. The Green Life reserve is owned by Ali Rusli, Indonesian conservationist and chairman of the NGO Yayasan Hutan Untuk Anak. The lands are rented to Forest For Children on long term lease of 50 years with an option to renew the contracts.
Land is available to us and although prices vary for each plot, it can be bought for approximately