Orangutan Conservation with a Half-Earth Approach


This lesson explores conservation strategies that apply Half-Earth Project principles for protecting orangutans. These Great Apes are among humanity’s closest genetic relatives, and they are critically endangered. In this lesson, students will apply data from the Half-Earth Map and other sources to understand and assess different approaches for conserving the current orangutan population in Borneo.


Middle School Life Science, High School Biology, AP Biology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, College Environmental Science, Natural Resources, Ecology, Forestry, Conservation Biology, Environmental Studies, Social Studies

You will need:

Printed Paper maps

Digital map files

Online half-earth map

Orangutan Conservation with a Half-Earth Approach

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how human activity is affecting the current population of orangutans in Borneo by gathering, analyzing, and applying data from the Half-Earth Map
  • Consider and evaluate possible options for protecting this species

Key Terms + Conditions

  • Keystone species
  • Critically endangered 
  • Student engagement with authentic research data
  • Conservation strategy
  • Habitat loss
  • Genetic diversity
  • Community engagement
  • Deforestation
  • Species restoration

Top tips for Instructors

The video interviews are a great opportunity for students to hear the passion that a conservationist brings to their work, but also the complications in doing conservation work where people have competing ideas for how to use forested land. 

The lesson features information from the Half-Earth Map and guides students to think about a variety of conservation action options. Parts of the in-depth lesson can be adapted to be used for shorter classroom sessions or as homework.

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