It has become only too apparent that the world's tropical rainforests are critically endangered.
In the case of South East Asia, the forests are essential for the survival of the rich diversity of plants and animals, including such special species as elephants, rhinos and orang-utans. Equally important, they are of critical importance for the goods and services they provide for the local people.
For the conservation of natural forests to have any chance of success, it requires the maintenance of very large blocks of inter-connected forest.
There is only one place on the planet where sufficiently large areas of the Indo-Malay forests of Southeast Asia could be conserved on such a scale. It straddles the trans-boundary highlands of Indonesia and Malaysia, and reaches through the foothills into adjacent lowlands and to parts of Brunei.
There is still time to protect and manage this area as one of the last bastions of the Southeast Asian rainforest.
I am very encouraged to know that WWF is seeking to engage the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in making plans to protect the existing forests in the area, and to achieve the sustainable use of the forests and the vital water-catchment areas with these unique forests.
This is a major initiative, and to succeed, WWF will need to establish technical and financial partnerships in the international community, including NGOs, multilateral and bilateral agencies.
This is a last chance initiative, and it simply has to succeed.
HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, former President of WWF from 1981-1996, at the 'Family Dinner' during the WWF Annual Conference 2002, Bristol, UK.
The Duke of Edinburgh is the patron of many organisations, including WWF and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The Duke was the first President of WWF-UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982, and President of WWF-International from 1981 to 1996. He is now President Emeritus for WWF.