The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ECOWATCH -

the sprawl­ing archipelago of more 17,000 is­lands where power is heav­ily de­cen­tralised, is also lax.

Cam­paign­ers say that com­pa­nies have ig­nored their le­gal obli­ga­tion to fill aban­doned deep pits once their ac­tiv­i­ties are com­plete. More than 10 peo­ple, in­clud­ing seven chil­dren, died be­tween 2011 and 2012 from fall­ing into these holes, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports.

This grim pic­ture of Sa­marinda is a far cry from what it once was – a lush jun­gle with orang utans and ex­otic birds, many na­tive to Bor­neo. It is a com­mon story across the world’s third-largest is­land, which was once al­most en­tirely cov­ered in trees but has now lost around half of its for­est, ac­cord­ing to the WWF.

Like in the Ama­zon, the rain­for­est on Bor­neo acts like a sponge, soak­ing up cli­mate change-in­duc­ing car­bon from the at­mos­phere.

A re­cent re­port from NGO the World De­vel­op­ment Move­ment warned the coal rush is spread­ing to bet­ter con­served parts of Bor­neo, such as Cen­tral Kal­i­man­tan.

The for­est in that prov­ince is cur­rently al­most un­touched but com­pa­nies such as An­glo-Aus­tralian BHP Bil­li­ton have plans to be­gin min­ing for coal.

BHP said that any de­vel­op­ment it car­ries out in Kal­i­man­tan “will be sub­ject to de­tailed en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial im­pact as­sess­ments”.

De­spite the de­struc­tion, Bor­neo con­tin­ues to at­tract na­ture lovers from around the world to see the old­est known rain­forests on the planet and its more than 1,400 an­i­mal species and 15,000 types of plants. But en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists warn there might not be much left to see if the en­vi­ron­men­tal dev­as­ta­tion con­tin­ues at the cur­rent pace. — AFP a barge laden with coal tra­verses Ma­hakam river in Sa­marinda, east Kal­i­man­tan. a coal rush has rav­aged the cap­i­tal, which risks be­ing swal­lowed up by min­ing if the ex­ploita­tion of its de­posits ex­pands any fur­ther. a man col­lect­ing waste log from Ma­hakam river. — aFP PHo­ToS

Min­ing dis­as­ter:

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