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Student and teacher in Sebangau National Park

Venturing into the rainforest

In 2017, journalist Asle Olav Rønning from the Norwegian publication «Bistandsaktuelt» visited Indonesia to cover the work carried out on peatlands. Following Mr. Rønning's visit, the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta had three of his articles translated into English. This is the third of them. The article was published in September 2017.

By Asle Olav Rønning

The national park, which lies near Central Kalimantan’s province capital Palangka Raya, is home to more than 250 various types of trees and 150 different species of birds. It has 6,000 orangutans, one of the world’s largest populations of the species.

The school class from Sumatra has been on a school trip to Central Kalimantan over several days. Today, they do not get to see any orangutans, but there are no sad faces. They have been on an exciting boat trip down a nearly overgrown river, and have seen wilderness up close when wandering through the jungle.

– This is the first time I’ve been in the forest. It’s very fun and a great adventure! We have learned a lot about peatlands and orangutans. I have never seen anything like this before, says 16-year old Elsa Paradila, brimming with enthusiasm.

The student says that she is interested in everything that has to do with nature and animals, and also in natural disasters like volcanic eruptions. At home in Jambi on Sumatra, it is not so easy to go for a walk in the forest, and she adds that her mother is not so eager for her to go hiking.

The 16-year-old is not the only one interested in life in the jungle. Noviyanti Nugraheni, one of the national park’s information officers, says that many young people ask questions and are really interested. She sees this as important work for the future.

– In my opinion, it is so important for children and adolescents to learn about the forest. It is not so common in Indonesia that they do this. If we begin with children, it might be normal in the future to conserve nature, says Ms. Nugraheni, hoping this eventually will be integrated into the curriculum.

Noviyanti Nugraheni, information officer with Sebangau National Park, believes it is important for children and adolescents to learn about the forest.

Noviyanti Nugraheni, information officer with Sebangau National Park, believes it is important for children and adolescents to learn about the forest. Photo: Asle Olav Rønning

Sebangau National Park covers a vast area, more expansive than Hardangervidda national park, the largest national park on mainland Norway. Sebangau was established in 2004, in an area where many trees had been earlier cut down. The area is gradually being restored, though it will take many years before the old trees are replaced.