Sav­ing the Heart of Bor­neo

The moun­tain­ous cen­tre of this great is­land is a trea­sure trove of lush high­land for­est. But it needs ur­gent help to sur­vive.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Ecowatch -

THE forests cov­ered by the Heart of Bor­neo ini­tia­tive are very im­por­tant to three coun­tries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The area refers to the moun­tain­ous cen­tre of the great is­land of Bor­neo. The forests here have in­deed fared far bet­ter than in the low­lands and coastal ar­eas (where the chal­lenges of de­for­esta­tion are well known) – that’s the good news so far.

Heart of Bor­neo cov­ers the deep in­te­rior ar­eas of Brunei, the In­done­sian province of Kal­i­man­tan, and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2007, there was a his­toric dec­la­ra­tion by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to con­serve an area des­ig­nated as the Heart of Bor­neo. Since then, con­sid­er­able work has been car­ried out un­der this ini­tia­tive by the three gov­ern­ments and their local and in­ter­na­tional sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing WWF.

In con­junc­tion with World En­vi­ron­ment Day yes­ter­day, WWFMalaysia and WWF-Indonesia re­leased an ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary of their up­com­ing pub­li­ca­tion ti­tled En­vi­ron­men­tal Sta­tus of Bor­neo 2016. This pro­vides an over­view of the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in Bor­neo that can be widely shared to gain col­lec­tive sup­port to save Bor­neo’s forests.

Bor­neo is home to a great di­ver­sity of plant and an­i­mal species, with rich re­sources for the liveli­hood of 11 mil­lion peo­ple. This in­cludes one mil­lion indige­nous peo­ples who in­habit the area called the Heart of Bor­neo, which lies in moun­tain­ous, hard-to-ac­cess up­river ar­eas. These peo­ple have sus­tain­ably man­aged the nat­u­ral cap­i­tal here for cen­turies.

“This World En­vi­ron­ment Day is a good op­por­tu­nity to draw at­ten­tion to the state of the en­vi­ron­ment that we are pass­ing onto gen­er­a­tions to come,” said Datuk Dr Diony­sius Sharma, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

“We need to act now and act fast to save Bor­neo’s forests. To­gether, we can help make one of the world’s last re­main­ing ex­panses of an­cient for­est in Bor­neo a bet­ter place to live in, both for us hu­mans, as well as the bio­di­ver­sity that thrives in this unique trop­i­cal rain­for­est is­land.”

The bad news is that not all is well in the high­lands of Bor­neo.

The re­port finds that Bor­neo is in dan­ger of los­ing its ma­jor ecosys­tems (and the valu­able ecoser­vices they pro­vide, such as fresh wa­ter sup­ply, flood con­trol, and bio­di­ver­sity) which are crit­i­cal to the long-term sur­vival of local com­mu­ni­ties and the three coun­tries’ economies.

Based on the re­port, the orig­i­nal 74 mil­lion hectares of overall for­est cover de­clined by 55% from 2005 to 2015. What’s more, within the forested ar­eas, the for­est is bro­ken up into smaller patches (frag­men­ta­tion), mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for wildlife to sur­vive. Un­der a busi­ness-as-usual sce­nario, by 2020, Bor­neo could lose 75% of its for­est.

“The Heart of Bor­neo ini­tia­tive has been on­go­ing for 10 years now and has gained in­creas­ing sup­port from all of our ma­jor stake­hold­ers,” says Benja V. Mam­bai, act­ing CEO

Local del­i­ca­cies, in­clud­ing rice wrapped in leaves, at the Bario food fes­ti­val dur­ing the first HEC.

Trop­i­cal rhodo­den­drons are among the pretty blooms found in the mon­tane for­est.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.