National Wildlife Refuge System

Great Dismal Swamp Refuge Welcomes Indonesian Biologists

Indonesian biologists, challenged with protecting endangered orangutans, visited Alligator River Refuge to learn about efforts to recover the red wolf.
Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

May 18, 2015 - Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia recently welcomed a group of Indonesian biologists and agency leaders interested in the refuge’s efforts to restore the swamp’s natural hydrology after centuries of farming, logging and clearing the land.


Sebangau National Park in Borneo was only established in 2007 but is confronting many of the same problems as Great Dismal Swamp Refuge.  “We showed them how we manage a forested wetland,” said refuge manager Chris Lowie. “They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and want to learn. And we want to learn from them as well.”


Great Dismal Swamp Refuge staff greet biologists from Indonesia to share strategies on restoring natural hydrology and protecting endangered species.
Credit: USFWS

The Indonesians spent two days at Great Dismal Swamp Refuge and two more at Alligator River, where they learned how the North Carolina refuge is adapting to sea level rise and working to recover the endangered red wolf.  Back at Sebangau National Park, the Indonesian biologists are challenged with protecting the endangered orangutans.


Lowie says he expects to sign a “sister protected lands” agreement with Indonesia in the fall. A USAID grant will fund reciprocal visits, two per year for the next five years. The agreement will focus on three issues: hydrology restoration, ecotourism and working with partners.  Lowie says the Indonesian staff want to increase their capabilities to identify and work with partners. He says they also want to create a more resilient habitat. “They asked, ‘how do you measure that?’ I’d never been asked how to measure resiliency,” said Lowie. So they will work on finding that answer together.




Last updated: May 18, 2015