Meet the Release Team: Bernadus Ariyo Sambodo

RHOI Chief of Planning and Operation Bureau

After graduating from the Agricultural Institute of Bogor, Ariyo worked as an environmental consultant for quite a while. During his career as an environmental consultant, he had witnessed so much forest destruction and degradation. He was particularly sickened seeing forest inhabitants, including orangutans, become victimized.

So when the BOS Foundation established PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) on April 21, 2009, Ariyo decided it was time to make a career change and contribute to the protection of forests in Indonesia. He applied and soon became one of the first to be recruited, where he was immediately trusted with the vital role as the Chief of Planning and Operation Bureau.

Since then, Ariyo has also helped establish community development activities in several villages around the Kehje Sewen Forest, particularly the indigenous communities of Ben Hes, Dea Beq and Deaq Lay. These three villages consist of traditional Dayak Wehea tribes who still solemnly honor their centuries-old cultures and rituals as part of their daily lives, which regulate not only how they interact with one another, but also with Mother Nature. Although administratively RHOI is the rightful owner of the ecosystem restoration concession permit for the next 60 years for the Kehje Sewen Forest, it culturally belongs to them. The Kehje Sewen Forest is considered the Dayak Wehea’s sacred forest.

Ariyo launched various socialization activities, aimed at introducing RHOI to these communities and socializing the importance of orangutans and their habitat. The residents of Ben Hes, Deaq Lay and Dea Beq warmly welcome RHOI activities in their forest although several challenges, specifically in Ben Hes, still exist. These villagers have openly admitted that they regret their decision to allow uncontrolled industrial development of oil palm plantations and mines in their area because now they experience flood all the time, especially in Deaq Lay. In Deaq Lay and in Dea Beq, water quality has also worsened significantly, causing less and less fish in the rivers. They are fully aware that RHOI activities will conserve their sanctified forest; hence their livelihood. So Ariyo and his team continue their socialization efforts and have now even started to offer several employment opportunities.

Ariyo hopes that in the near future RHOI will be able to prove that protecting a forest can also bring positive economic advantages to the communities around it. And he hopes the released orangutans will make the Kehje Sewen Forest flourish into a lush and majestic tropical rainforest for the benefits of all living creatures.


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