Press Release

RSPB re-releases images of King Charles’ visit to Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia to mark Coronation

Ahead of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, the RSPB is remembering the 2008 visit he made to Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia, by re-releasing a series of images taken during his trip.

Posted 5 min read
  • Charity marks the Coronation of King Charles III by remembering the then Prince’s visit to Indonesia in 2008
  • His Majesty The King has been a long advocate of conservation and the need to protect our natural world at home and globally
  • Harapan, which means ‘Hope’ in Indonesian, was acquired by a partnership involving the RSPB in 2008 to secure its future for the local communities and wildlife that lives within it

Ahead of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, the RSPB is remembering the 2008 visit he made to Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia, by re-releasing a series of images taken during his trip. 

The Prince of Wales, as he was then known, visited Indonesia as part of a trip arranged by the RSPB to meet people from indigenous communities and understand the issues faced by them alongside the pressures on wildlife living in one of the world’s most threatened and important rainforests.

The RSPB, together with its partners acquired the management rights to the 250,000-acre Harapan rainforest in 2008 to save it from deforestation.  This followed a change of the forestry law by the Indonesian Government giving the partnership the rights to manage the forest without needing to do any logging.  Since then, the RSPB has been working alongside local communities and BirdLife partner, Burung Indonesia, as well as the country’s government, to safeguard the future of this precious area.

During his trip, King Charles, who was accompanied by the RSPB’s Chief Executive at the time, Graham Wynne, met with local school children, government officials, conservation staff and even got involved in some tree planting. He was shown a clearing where indigenous plants had been reintroduced to the forest and spoke to forest dwellers who told him the project would help provide incomes for them as many lived on up to 25,000 Rupiah [£2.50 in 2008] a day and relied on hunting and gathering to survive.

Harapan Rainforest is so rich in wildlife that it can be described as one of the world's 'biodiversity hotspots'. Animals found in the forest include the famous Sumatran tiger, Asian elephants, porcupines bears and turtles. The forest is home to 300 different species of birds that breed there - including Hornbills, Eagles, Kingfishers, Pheasants and the world’s rarest stork species, Storm’s Stork. A huge variety of insects, flowers and plants can be found there, too.

King Charles rounded off his trip by setting out draft proposals, drawn up by his Prince's Rainforest Project, in a lecture to the Indonesian cabinet.  The trip was made as part of an ambitious scheme to save the world's rainforests and combat climate change.

Since 2008 the RSPB has been working with local partners to restore and protect the site from forest clearing, illegal logging, poaching and fires.

In 2021 during a recent survey of a formerly logged area of Harapan, the team discovered seven frog species new to science.  One of them - a little frog, which is only 2cm long, has a golden back and black bands and was not listed in any reference books the survey team were using. Cellular level lab tests carried out later by the Bogor Zoological Museum confirmed that the mini frog was a species new to the world. In fact, its DNA was found to be like frogs of the same family from Vietnam, almost 2000km away.

Since then, another team of researchers have found six other frog species that are new to science in other parts of Harapan forest, and it’s thought that many more species hidden within the forest are waiting to be discovered.

The vision for Harapan is that, by 2030, Harapan will be sustainably managed for biodiversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation.

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Main image: Eka Tresnawan (Harapan Rainforest)