Orangutans share 97% of their DNA with humans,
making them one of our closest relatives
Orangutans are native only to Indonesia and Malaysia
Over 90% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed
in the last 20 years
Palm oil is found in almost half of all common household products
on supermarket shelves around the world
Around the world, over 900 hectares per hour of rainforest is cleared
The average orangutan has the intelligence
of a six year old human child
Borneo's forest has been logged of most of its
precious hardwood timber and over 70 other valuable species.
Over 75% of all logging in Borneo is illegal (WWF)
The word orangutan comes from the Malay language
and means 'person of the forest'
Palm oil is very much a short-term commodity,
not a long-term sustainable solution
21 year old Ben, from Sydney, was just six years old when his parents bought him his first pet snake, which led to the vast menagerie of pythons, lizards, birds, insects, frogs and other animals that occupy the family home today. “Animals give my life purpose and provide me with an ongoing source of curiosity and inspiration”.
Ben is currently studying for a Bachelor of Natural Science (Animal Science) degree at the University of Western Sydney to further the career that he is already so passionate about.
Ben is a volunteer with his local wildlife rescue group, Sydney Wildlife and has cared for countless species of native animals over the past seven years. Through his part-time employment Ben also runs educational courses on all sorts of reptiles and amphibians at Australia’s largest and most awarded pet shop, Kellyville Pets, whilst also finding time to work at the Australian Reptile Park. To date, Ben has raised more than $30 000 for various wildlife initiatives and wants to continue in his quest to save animals of all shapes and sizes. Ben was recently invited by Bob Irwin (father of the late Steve Irwin) to help him launch his new wildlife charity, the Bob Irwin Wildlife and Conservation Foundation.
Mark Kuroski is proud to be from Wisconsin in the USA. He graduated from Viterbo University in 2007 with a degree in Music Theatre and a minor in Digital Media. He has performed in theatres throughout the United States including Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, and Georgia.
Shortly after moving to New York City to pursue his career in acting, Mark was hired by a children’s theatre company that brought him to South Korea where he has been able to combine his love of digital media with his passion for performing. For the past year, he has been creating intriguing, animated PowerPoint presentations and entertaining videos that are used to enrich the original children’s musicals performed at the Gyeonggi English Village. He has also played a multitude of characters in these musicals.
Mark’s work has been seen by thousands of Korean school children and used to aid them in learning English as a second language. He is incredibly excited to be a part of the DeforestACTION team, and to use his musical and digital talents to help make a positive change for the island of Borneo.
Visit Mark's TIG profile.
Paul originates from the foothills of the lush rainforest border ranges in northern NSW, Australia. He grew up on a rainforest and fruit tree nursery specializing in the propagation of plant species for edible landscaping and reforestation. Paul's horticultural background and passion for ecology led him into a career that integrates Forest Restoration with Permaculture Design. His work focuses on restoring eco-system function and biodiversity to degraded landscapes, from backyard urban-agriculture systems to assisting the regeneration of critical wildlife corridors and endangered ecological communities.
His work on the DeforestAction project in West Kalimantan opened up a whole new focus on conservation-based community development and a deepened respect for the role of resilient local communities in biodiversity conservation.
Paul is currently embarking on a 12 month AUS-AID funded AYAD assignment (Australian Youth Ambassador for Development) in Northern Sumatra with the Orangutan Information Centre where he is excited to be collaborating with local communities on a pioneering forest restoration program in Gunung Leuser National Park.
Visit Paul's blog
Fabrice Marre is a citizen of the world. A native of France, a resident of Australia and a global traveller, Fabrice has been passionate about nature, art, different cultures and spatial technologies from an early age. His job as a geospatial engineer has taken him from Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and the jungles of the Amazon in French Guiana to Indonesia and now Australia.
He has worked on both research and commercial environmental mapping projects, related to the monitoring of the Amazon environment and disaster management projects. These have included bushfires, floods, oil spill monitoring and the 2004 Indonesian tsunami reconstruction effort. In his spare time, Fabrice is involved in the arts community and uses his skills as a sculptor to contribute to creative projects including sets for theatre productions and special effects make-up for the film industry.
Driven by passion and great enthusiasm, Fabrice is a strong advocate of combining education with geospatial technologies to create a sustainable environment for our fragile planet.
Visit Fabrice's TIG profile.
Liza Heavener is a Government Relations Specialist living in Washington, D.C. She has over 6 years of experience on Capitol Hill working on issues ranging from healthcare to aviation. Earlier in her career she had the opportunity to work in the United States Senate and managed a political campaign in New York. She says “I want to be a bridge builder for grassroots advocacy and issues facing our planet with lawmakers and people who can affect lasting change by implementing policy.” She believes politics can be a powerful vehicle for creating positive change.
Growing up in a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania, Liza was raised with the values of sustainability, community empowerment, and social justice. Her desire to spend time working on issues that help the planet have inspired her to join this project and prepare for Borneo.
In her free time, she uses her green thumb in her vegetable garden and flies single-engine planes as a student pilot. Most recently you can find her back in the halls of Congress but this time she’s sharing the story of Borneo’s deforestation and showing pictures of Jojo to anyone who will listen!
Read Liza's blog.
Neo Chai Chin is a journalist from Singapore. She became more aware of environmental issues in the past decade and is astounded by the amount of damage that has been inflicted on our planet, as well as the fact that a change to our habits and lifestyles can still make a difference to our amazing and resilient ecosystems.
The 100 days in Borneo have opened her eyes to the fragility of the communities and forests a two-hour plane ride away from Singapore – especially the impact of palm oil plantations on indigenous peoples and wildlife. These are not issues confined to Borneo; they ought to be on everyone’s radar, as the footprint of palm oil companies and their products extend far and wide.
Chai Chin volunteers with environmental groups in Singapore on an ad hoc basis and will tell anyone who will listen about Borneo and the need to use less and care more.
Visit Chai Chin's TIG profile.
Fahrani is in her mid 20's and living comfortably in her tree house in Bali. Born in Jakarta, Fa Left at home at an early age to pursue her passion to be an international model. She moved to Hong Kong When she was 16, then Tokyo After that, where it did not take long for her to make a serious impact in Asia. She has also been a model in Paris, Milan, Sydney And New York.
Her unique and original style has helped her become more than just a model and her driven personality allowed her to diversify into acting. Starring In many feature films in Indonesia, she has also won best actress in 2008 in her role in Radit & Jani. She is currently launching her new eyewear line, CAST. In the short amount of time it has been available, CAST is already available in 5 countries.
Fa is proud of her many achievements and believes strongly if she has a team to work with then they are destined for success.
Visit Fahrani's TIG profile.
Perry is a Veterinary Technician from Ontario, Canada and has an immeasurable passion for animals, ethology, science, reading, as well as athletics such as Rugby, Soccer, and Football. He likes to keep fit and is a vegan due to animal welfare problems within the food industries around the world. He plays his guitar regularly and has done so for over 10 years. He is actively trying to find his place in the world and make a positive impact in it.
Visit Perry's TIG profile.
Tom Smith was raised out in the sticks in the UK, in the only village in Europe that doesn't have a pub. For a youngster, this isn't too much of a worry though, and he spent most of his childhood swimming in brooks, collecting fossils, and looking after his pet donkey that he rescued from the circus. He's always had an affinity for the environment, sustainability and behaviour, and has just finished studying Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, which he balanced alongside his passion for activism, photography, wheeling and dealing old bicycles, and staring up at the incredible universe.
Tom has been a keen eco-activist, attending Copenhagen climate summit, organising an event which taught hundreds of young people the skills to tackle climate change, and setting up a photography exhibition in London on sustainability and the urban environment. He also helped to build the foundations of an eco-tourism site in Java, Indonesia.
Shadrack Kalasa is a young Kenyan Youth Activist who lives in Mombasa City. He is fun loving, hardworking and Volunteers at the National Youth Parliament of Kenya informing young people on Millennium Development Goals. Currently a member of the national executive of the Kenyan Youth Parliament, Shadrack is currently a project assistant with the Kenyan Red Cross. He has studied at the Post-Graduate level Corporate Leadership and Governance. Shadrack was awarded 'the bronze navigator award' by the President Awards Kenya for Leadership and Organizational skills and his greatest achievement was representing Kenya in the 5th World Youth Congress in Turkey (2010) and contributed to the 'Istanbul Action Plan', which highlighted issues that young people face all over the world.
Visit Shadrack's TIG profile.
Kodi Twiner is a 21 yr old force to be reckoned with.
Graduating high school in 2009, Kodi has been paving a path of adventure and experience. Kodi has worked for organisations such as Greenpeace, Rainforest Rescue and Positive Change for Marine Life, and volunteered for various environmental campaigns.
"I knew from the moment I found out about this project, I was meant to go. I was focussed on nothing else from that moment on. Borneo was this raw, challenging, transformative experience that tore down so many illusions I had about people of the world."
"I've had enough of the doomsday approach. Never before have we been in an age of such opportunity and access to limitless amounts of knowledge. This is our time and the revolution is all around you. Your choices matter, you matter."
Now living in Byron Bay, Kodi has added another element in the mix - music. Her band 'Hunter & Smoke' are blazing a trail through the Australian music scene. Kodi hopes this can be another platform from which environmental awareness and activism can be launched.
Visit Kodi's TIG profile.
Dr. Willie Smits is a rainforest inventor who has revolutionized reforestation techniques and policies worldwide and is also the world’s most prominent protector of orangutans and their natural habitat. As founder of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and the Masarang Foundation, he has consistently worked to address the root causes of deforestation by addressing the relationship between the animal world, our planet, and humankind.