September 2017 – A trip to visit another oil palm-based research project in Sumatra, Indonesia

A blog post by BEFTA Programme and Insect Ecology Group PhD student Millie Hood. Also posted at

An Effortless Trip to EFForTs

It was with much excitement that BEFTA Programme members William Foster, Ed Turner, Amy Eycott, Sarah Luke, Millie Hood (University of Cambridge) and Eleanor Slade (University of Oxford), set off to meet the EFForTS group in Jambi, Indonesia, this August. Despite the early hour on a Sunday morning, we were welcomed most-warmly by Dr Aiyen Tjoa and Prof Bambang Irawan­­­­ at the airport, and our journey passed quickly with interesting conversation, muffins and pastries aplenty.

Dr Clara Zemp showed us around her biodiversity enrichment project, graciously answering our battery of questions. We enjoyed exploring the forested islands, where the oil palm matrix has been enriched by the planting of local trees. It was fortunate timing for us too, as Sarah Luke will soon be planting local trees in her riparian buffers for the RERTA project at the BEFTA programme, so we gained a lot from Clara’s good advice.

After a quick rest and a delicious dinner, we headed out in the dead of night to hunt for the consumers of fig fruits. We were armed with a UV torch, as the fruits had already been dyed with UV dust. Unfortunately, we did not catch the fruit forager this time. However, as we were also equipped with night vision goggles, it hardly mattered.

The next day we were whisked off to meet Dr Christian Stiegler, who dazzled us with the complexities of his climate tower. Then we made a quick pit stop at their herbicide experiment, which was very interesting in light of our understory vegetation manipulations at the BEFTA programme. The weekend was wrapped up by a series of talks, a stroll along the pedestrian bridge in Jambi, and (somehow) we even fitted in more muffins!

A huge thank you to the EFForTS programme, particularly Dr Aiyen Tjoa, for your great hospitality. We look forward to working with you in the future. To learn more about the Ecological and Socioeconomic Functions of Tropical Lowland Rainforest Transformation Systems (Sumatra, Indonesia) (EFForTS) Programme visit their webpage:

 A group photo with Aiyen and Clara in one of their research plots.

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