The Penan have been able to protect large contiguous areas of primary forest and are now using its rich diversity to obtain genetically diverse and high-quality seeds for tree species that have become very rare due to deforestation and slash-and-burn clearing. This is especially true for slow-growing species of wood, which, while they bind a lot of carbon, also have a very high market value (e.g. many meranti species) and have therefore long been preferred by timber companies. In many places, these species, which play an important role both climatically and ecologically, have been so severely decimated that the forests can no longer regenerate naturally. One of the reasons for this is that these species can only reproduce slowly and in small steps and their seeds are not spread over large areas by birds or insects like other trees.
Together with our partners, we have established a number of small-scale tree nurseries to obtain valuable plant material in the form of seedlings and nurture them until they are ready to be replanted. The seedlings are also potentially sold to customers in Sarawak and to partner projects of communities in and around the Baram Peace Park. These include, in particular, Indigenous communities who need seedlings for the restoration of water catchment areas. Indigenous communities that buy the seeds for reforestation purposes receive support in planting and monitoring the seedlings to ensure the sustainability of the project. At the same time, the tree nurseries offer communities an alternative income and independence from the timber and palm oil industry.