• Bukit Lawang Trust

2019 at the Trust

As the Trust prepares to close for it’s end of year holiday, we cannot help but reflect on the successes and challenges of 2019.

This year the Trust has gone through so many changes, with Kindergarten graduating in April and a hugely successful conservation festival in August in which 40 pledges from over 20 NGOs and charities to commit resources, time and money to protecting the severely endangered Leuser ecosystem were made. The Trust saw the beloved Lily and Joe leave, went through a period with no managers, gained new managers in August and September. We have lost students, gained new ones, overhauled the English language curriculum and designed new curriculum and programs for the new year. We have recruited lots of new volunteers, redesigned the volunteer placements delivered by the Trust and started delivering a range of new projects including Days For girls, fitness classes, and Youth Ranger.


Since our new Head of Conservation Sam arrived in August this year the team here at the Trust has been working tirelessly to develop and implement brand new Conservation Programmes for the coming year. Over the past six months the Conservation team have designed our new Youth-Led Sustainable Enterprise Program, due to start on the 24th February 2020. This program aims to facilitate the education of local small-scale enterprise owners and aspiring business owners in sustainable best practice as well as basic business skills in order to empower the local people and aid them in raising themselves out of poverty through livelihood diversification. On top of this over the past few months we have delivered our very own Youth Ranger program. Designed by Darwin animal doctors. Indeed this week has seen our first group of Youth Ranger graduates completing the program and receiving their official certificate!

The Youth Ranger program was originally designed as a platform through which the next generations of climate activists, Rangers, Guides and sustainable citizens can educate themselves on sustainable best practices both within the setting of the tropical rainforest and within their daily lives. The aim of the program is to give the youth of today a taste of Ranger patrol responsibilities and have a better understanding of the importance of protecting and preserving animals in the natural environment. Phase I has included sessions on wild animal recognition and protection, tracking, movement and general etiquette in the Jungle, sustainable practice at home, i.e. reusing single use plastics. The students have learnt how to build Eco Bricks, along with many other ways to reuse their plastic, for example making planters out of water bottles. On top of this students have been learning about the do’s and don’ts of safe interaction with wild animals and have been making action plans on how they can educate and encourage their local communities towards sustainable best practices. Phase I also includes an introduction to climate change, the key causes and what can be done to help, as well as basic first Aid.

Our Head of Conservation Sam Oakes is currently working with our partners from Darwin Animal Doctors to design the next phase of the Youth Ranger program. Phase II of the program promises to be largely practical with 3/4 of its tuition to be conducted outside in varying environments. We hope to introduce students to many conservation methodologies such as animal tagging, camera traps, tracking, anti-poaching and more! Alongside practical skills used by rangers and indeed lots of professions here in the Leuser Ecosystem, such as safe river crossing, navigation (day and night) animal recognition & interaction, and an introduction to flora and fauna amongst many other exciting new topics! It is our hope that through education we can foster a love and respect for wild animals and the natural environment and in doing so encourage the preservation and by extension continued existence of many of the endangered species that call North Sumatra home, including Sumatran Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos, Orangutans, Sun Bears and many more.


Youth Ranger has not been the only celebration this week, as we have also given out our end of term reports to our Kindergarten students. Alongside these reports and some class prizes, we all had a great Day Out, celebrating with food and a swim in the river!

Our English classes have been expanding to a greater age range of learners, with our main achievements in the past few months being our successful teenage and adult classes here at the Trust. In 2020 we are aiming to expand our adult classes to include vocabulary more relevant to professionals here in Bukit Lawang- including hopefully delivering a medical based curriculum with staff from the local government clinic – as they often get in English speaking tourists as patients.

Another of the Trust’s major achievements this year is that we have managed to raise the funds to sponsor our own Teacher Tri Tamira to attend her first term of Primary Learning Training at University. For the price of just a pint, (or a couple of boxes of mince pies) a month, you too can contribute towards Tri’s Education. If you are able to contribute towards Tri’s second and third terms at Uni, please email the Trust with the subject line ‘Tri’ to see how you can help! Our email is

As the Year draw to a close, we also sadly have to say goodbye to our fantastic Volunteer Emma Johann – Emma you will be a huge miss to all of us here at the Trust. Thank you so so much for all of your hard work.

That’s all from the Team in Sumatra for now!

Happy Holidays everybody!

Sam and Rosie

Heads of Conservation and Education

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