Have a heart: a third of Borneo’s rainforests to be conserved
Bali, Indonesia, 12 February 2007—An historic declaration to conserve the “Heart of Borneo” was officially signed today between the three Bornean governments—Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The tri-country declaration means one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000 square kilometres of equatorial rainforests—almost a third of the island—will be conserved and sustainably managed, and plans to create the world’s largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan along Indonesia’s mountainous border with Malaysia have formally been scrapped.
“This is an historic occasion which marks new collaboration between our three countries,” said Mr MS Kaban, the Indonesian Minister of Forestry. “This will put the Heart of Borneo on the world stage as one of the last great blocks of forest in the world.”
The Heart of Borneo Declaration is a lifeline for Borneo’s rainforests that are threatened by unsustainable logging, forest fires and forest conversion for plantations. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased to an average of 2 million hectares per year. Today, only half of Borneo’s original forest cover remains.
The island is home to 13 species of primates, 150 species of reptiles and amphibians, over 350 species of birds, and around 15,000 species of plants, and continues to be the source of many new discoveries—more than 50 new species were discovered last year alone.
“This event is more than symbolic as it represents a commitment between our three countries to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo,” said Dato Seri Azmi bin Khalid, Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
“It has become clear since we started to discuss cooperation on the vision for the Heart of Borneo that the world outside our countries is excited by what we are doing and is prepared to lend us support,” said Pehin Dr Awang Haji Ahmad bin Haji Jumat, Minister of Brunei Darussalam’s Industry and Primary Resources.
The three governments announced their joint intention to conserve the Heart of Borneo at a Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in March 2006, and have been supported in their efforts by WWF.