• Bukit Lawang Trust

Climate Action - Is it really too late?

It is no secret that the world is in a pretty bad state. In fact, we have known about the danger our planet is in for more than six decades. With the emergence of the ‘Keeling Curve’ in the 1950s; you know, that graph that looks like something you might doodle whilst pretending to listen in an uninspiring meeting, or a boring classroom (see below); the world has been acutely aware of our changing climate. Then known as Global warming or the ‘Green house’ effect, this Graph kickstarted a new wave of positive small-scale action like changing your lightbulb, getting a recycling bin or buying a hybrid.

"The Keeling Curve" - Keeling, 1958.

Now however, as we approach seven decades of insufficient climate action, of increasing global temperatures, mass deforestation, fossil fuel addicted governments and oil funded climate change denialism, we stand upon the precipice where changing a lightbulb simply isn’t enough. Indeed, not since a meteor hit the earth 65 million years ago have so many species of plant and animal gone extinct in such a short period of time. It is no longer possible to continue living the way that we in western society have enjoyed for so long without causing irreparable damage to our planet.

Don’t worry though! Its not all doom and gloom! In September 2015 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted an unprecedented ‘2030 agenda’ which produced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals address the global challenges we face, including those relating to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice, check them out here!

If every single one of us commits to sacrificing comfort to protect our shared home, we can continue to enjoy this paradise for generations to come. When poverty is irradiated, inequalities history and universal peace and justice restored, we can all work towards protecting our planet and all life on it.

Think I’m a dreamer? Think again! ….

In the past 11 weeks the Bukit Lawang Trust has been undertaking the monumental task of restructuring and redesigning its programmes to meet the needs of the community as well as protecting the severely endangered Leuser Ecosystem through its brand-new Conservation Programmes! The Trust has now committed every single one of its programmes to meeting the UN sustainable development goals, as it is our belief that climate action is not the responsibility of a few, but the responsibility of all!

Students learning to make a Map with natural resources

Our conservation programmes include the incredible Ecological Farming programme run by our project partner Erna, as well as a Youth Ranger programme developed by Darwin Animal Doctors, where our students are learning about protecting the Jungle and its rich biodiversity, including Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, Bears and Orangutans. This week, our students have been learning about navigation, tracking animals and packing for a jungle trek! On top of this, starting from February the brand-new Youth-Led Sustainable Enterprise programme will begin its first ever cycle. This programme will look to establish new sustainable enterprises whilst assisting existing business owners to adapt and develop their businesses towards sustainable best practice. This is particularly important in Bukit Lawang as a large majority of work is on the Palm Oil plantations, which devastate the local ecosystem and contribute to mass deforestation and habitat destruction.

So, if you are sat at home reading this wondering what you can do to help, allow me to offer you a few options:

1. Cycle to work – yes you might have to skip the morning tv show or the lie in, but on the bright side, your not burning harmful fossil fuels before your day has even started.

2. Make a compost bin – having your own compost bin is a great way of reusing organic food waste and provides you with free compost for your veg patch!

3. Buy a water bottle and refill. The production of plastics emits almost double the greenhouse gas emissions than the entire global aviation sector.

4. Reuse your plastics - you can do loads with your plastic waste (don’t forget that 50% of all plastic recycled in Europe is sent off to Asia and Africa and not actually recycled!) check out these great ideas for reusing your plastic waste.

5. Cut out palm oil – palm oil is one of the largest contributors to the unsustainable and irresponsible destruction of tropical rainforest, which is home to 50% of all life on land. Here in Sumatra palm oil companies bribe government officials to look the other way whilst illegally setting forest fires to clear cut the rainforest to meet the ever expanding demand for palm oil. So if we as consumers demand sustainable palm oil, we can help prevent this devestation.

6. Cut out Beef – did you know, that just by cutting beef out of your diet, you can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 80%. That’s right, you don’t even have to go veggie to make a huge difference!

Or if you want to help US make a difference, here are some more options!

1. Donate – check out our website and click the donate tab! Every single penny you donate goes directly to providing free education to over 300 students across seven local communities. None of our international staff are paid, including myself and Rosie (the managers).

2. Fund Raise – If you want to do something more and raise awareness for the Trust and the incredible work that our staff and volunteers do every day this could be the option for you!... previous fund raisers have included bag packs, parties, car boot sales, ultra-marathons, pub quizzes and much more! (dont forget to get the fund raising details from us!)

3. Volunteer – if you have a passion for conservation and want to do your part for protecting our home get in touch via the contact page on this website and apply for a volunteer placement with one of our programmes, if you want to help, we want to work with you!

So from all of us here in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra,

Thank you for reading!

Sam Oakes

Head of Conservation & Manager

Bukit Lawang Trust.

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Yayasan Bukit Lawang Trust Dusun III,

Timbang Jaya Jalan Besar,

Bukit Lawang,


Langkat Regency,

Sumatra Indonesia 20774,



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