How to rebuild a rainforest after fire and logging - The IKEA funded ”Sow-a-Seed” project in Borneo

Photo: Ulrik Ilstedt

How to rebuild a rainforest after fire and logging - The IKEA funded ”Sow-a-Seed” project in Borneo

Welcome to attend our open Focali seminar, 10 November, and listen to experiences from one of the largest areas of restored rainforest in the world. Focali members Ulrik Ilstedt and Malin Gustafsson, from the Department of Forest Ecology and Management at SLU, are working with the “Saw-a-seed project” together with scientists from around the world. The project, funded by IKEA and the "Kamprad Family Foundation", aims at restoring an area of 18 500 ha rainforest on Borneo in Sabah that was seriously damaged by forest fires and logging.

What Focali seminar
When Nov 10, 2015 01:15 PM to
Nov 10, 2015 03:00 PM
Where NEW VENUE: "Vasa A" at Chalmers, Entrance from Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, Göteborg
Contact Name
Contact Phone 031-786 9222
Add event to calendar vCal

Since 1998 more than two million seedlings have been planted and 12 500 ha of forest has been treated. The seminar will focus on their research and the benefits of the project as well as the drivers of deforestation in the region with global linkages. 

Download the seminar program here  or view the program below. After presentations by Ulrik and Malin about the rehabilitation project a discussion will be held with contributions from two discussants: Olle Forshed, Rainforest expert at WWF-Sweden and Martin Persson, Associate Professor, Energy and Environment Chalmers.

Ulrik Ilstedt

Interdisciplinary research collaboration:
Ulrik Ilstedt the Scientific Coordinator of the “Sow-a-Seed” project see many possibilities for collaborations with researchers from different countries and disciplines:

- I together with our local partners - Sabah Foundation and University Malaysia Sabah - seek to establish the project as a large scale “rainforest restoration laboratory” which will be open for researchers from various disciplines locally and internationally. Recently a Danish group with involvement in the uniquely “pristine” nature reserve Maliau Basin in Sabah started a “Nordic Rainforest Research Network”. Since Maliau Basin is only a two hours’ drive from the "Saw-a-seed” area - through degraded forests, oil palm and industrial tree plantations - this transect could be a good opportunity for interdisciplinary studies.

Project committed to people and planet:

Some of the unique aspects of the project are the use of about 80 indigenous tree species as well as a long term commitment to maintenance after planting. The project has also contributed socially by employing up to 200 local people over an 18 year period while improving working and living conditions compared to similar local jobs. In the coming five year period research will be intensified to evaluate and improve the restoration approaches. 


Malin Gustafsson

Aim to build knowledge for future restoration:
Malin Gustafsson is a PhD student in the “Sow-a-seed project” her research is focused on improving the knowledge of rainforest restoration mainly targeting practical aspects of the restoration, but also trying to examine what impact the planted trees have on another life form i.e. epiphyllous lichens: - In order to understand what impact our restoration efforts may have on the forest biodiversity I have also inventoried the epiphyllous lichens on 25 of our planted trees, with the aim to study the tree species traits and diversity influence on lichen species richness and diversity. With my research I hope to increase the knowledge of rainforest restoration, to facilitate future restoration of biodiversity.

Monkeys moving back:
In an article about the project in “Global IKEA news” one can read that Malin has been to the Sabah region eight times to conduct her studies and in an interview with her she states that: “The restoration of biodiversity is a new area of study, so we are at the forefront here.” According to the same article the World Wildlife Foundation recently surveyed the rehabilitated area, called “INIKEA land”, and discovered families of orangutans living in the regenerated rainforest along with Gibbon monkeys, pygmy elephants and hornbills.

Island of success in rainforest under pressure?

The project is a key player in the global work with rainforest restauration. However while this project is restoring rainforest and inspiring and educating others to work with restauration elsewhere, global tropical deforestation continues. Thus besides discussing the experiences from the “Sow-a-Seed” project we will look at the broader context of challenges to the rainforest in the region and discuss the role of global consumption patterns as driver of deforestation and what remedies that could be effective to halt deforestation.



Ulrik Ilstedt - “The Sow-a-seed” project: Restoring a productive and diverse rainforest after fire and logging
Associate Professor at Department of Forest Ecology and Management, SLU. Scientific Coordinator of the IKEA funded “Saw-a-seed-project”

Malin Gustafsson - “Improving rainforest restoration - a multiple species and traits approach in Sabah, Borneo”
PhD candidate at Department of Forest Ecology and Management, SLU Umeå.

The Discussion
moderated by the Focali Project Coordinator Maria Ölund includes contributions from two discussants: Olle Forshed, Rainforest expert at WWF-Sweden and Martin Persson, Associate Professor, Energy and Environment Chalmers.


Questions for discussion:

- Collaboration with the “Sow-a-seed” project” and the “Nordic Rainforest Research Network” in Borneo

- The local context in the region as the current raging forest fires and expansion of oil palm plantations

- Drivers behind forest fires and deforestation and remedies to address the challenges

- Lessons learned from forest restoration and halting deforestation in other rainforest regions


To attend the seminar please register to the Focali Project Coordinator:


All photos: Ulrik Ilstedt


Subscribe to our newsletter