The Heart of Borneo
A jungle stream in Kinabalu National Park, Borneo. Photo Credit: Paul Mannix via Flickr
The single largest stretch of rainforest left standing in Southeast Asia sits on the tropical island of Borneo. Called the Heart of Borneo Rainforest, it is the world’s third largest rainforest and could be the most biodiverse. The forest is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It has been historically preyed upon by all three countries and is still threatened by illegal logging, but for the past 10 years it has had a powerful guardian – the Heart of Borneo Rainforest Foundation.
An international cooperation between all three countries on the island, the Heart of Borneo Rainforest Foundation has been protecting the biological, ecological, and cultural richness of all Borneo’s rainforests. Though small, the team is well-supported and making a lot of things happen.
Biodiversity surveys teach governments and protection agencies how best to conserve the forests and their animals. Assessments of illegal poaching increase capacity to crack down on hunters of endangered species like clouded leopards. Rainforest conservation education classes are being planned internationally, and a hub for all of Borneo’s various smaller NGOs is being built, so that they can all share learning and resources to better protect their beautiful natural environment.
What’s more, the effort is being powerfully backed by Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak Chief Minster Adenan Satem recently assured that his government recognizes the importance of rainforests as a life support system for the island and in the big picture, the whole planet.
“We will cooperate with [Indonesia] in ensuring the effective management of forest resources and conservation of a network of our protected areas; productive forests and other sustainable land-uses within the HoB area to maintain the Bornean natural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations, and also without prejudice to the ongoing negotiations on land boundary demarcation,” Satem said.
In reality, the Heart of Borneo Rainforest Foundation is the core of a larger effort between nations to protect the environment. Putting the pieces together and acting as an environmental compass for its component countries, the Foundation is leading the way for rainforest protection in a global hotspot for biodiversity.