Asia’s last great rainforest
Still swathed in extensive tropical rainforests and inhabited by endangered animals such as orangutans, elephants and rhinos, the island continues to reveal new biodiversity wonders as more species are constantly discovered.
A shared asset between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia
Borneo is divided between Indonesia, Brunei-Darussalam and Malaysia. Their shared responsibility to manage the island’s central highland rainforests - the Heart of Borneo – has led to an ambitious transboundary conservation initiative.
A mosaic of landscapes
Although Borneo conjures images of dense tropical rainforests, the landscape offers a mosaic of varied habitats: mangroves, peat swamp and swamp forests, ironwood, heath and montane forests. These areas form part of a complex ecosystem that has evolved over thousands of years.
Massive rivers cut across the landscape, weaving their way across Borneo’s central range. These are the island’s lifelines, offering transport and communication but providing the freshwater needs of river communities.
The human heart of Borneo
Mirroring the island’s natural diversity and the tides of change that have swept through over the centuries, Borneo’s people are a mosaic of culturally distinct indigenous groups scattered across the landscape.
Some, like the Penan, are nomadic hunter-gatherers while the majority, the Dayak, are settled and cultivate rice through shifting techniques (dry swiddens) and paddies (wet rice cultivation).
Beyond the intrinsic values of the Heart of Borneo, there are many other reasons to protect this area
Around half of the Heart of Borneo and its surrounding areas are covered by logging concessions. Forests inside these concessions can be logged according to national sustainability certification standards. These concessions bring employment opportunities and economic revenue for local and state governments.
Well-managed natural forests provide high-quality drinking water to urban and rural populations. With 14 of Borneo’s 20 major rivers beginning their journey from the Heart of Borneo, the area is the source for the island’s considerable water resources.
Borneo’s natural forests are not usually prone to fires if left undisturbed. As forests are opened up by humans, they dry out and become susceptible to fires, which can cause dangerous atmospheric haze. Properly managed, the Heart of Borneo’s forests can provide an effective break to the worst effects of fires.
Oil palm plantations
Malaysia and Indonesia account for over 90 per cent of the world's total oil palm plantation area.
As palm oil is the cheapest vegetable oil, the demand for this commodity as a source of food and energy is expected to rise rapidly. The demand for food alone is expected to double in the next decade, and the Indonesian government has responded by setting a target to increase oil palm production from 20 million tonnes in 2009 to 40 million tonnes in 2020.