New report reveals Heart of Borneo’s major role in bolstering Southeast Asia’s dwindling natural capital



Posted on 05 June 2012
Jakarta, Indonesia – Booming economic development and per-capita consumption across the Asia-Pacific region is burning up more natural resources than are available, placing enormous pressure on the region’s already heavily taxed forests, rivers and oceans, says a new WWF report on the value of Asia’s natural capital, released to mark World Environment Day, June 5, 2012.

Produced in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Ecological Footprint and Investment in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific report – a regional perspective on elements of the recently-released Living Planet Report – focuses on attainable methods of preserving key regional ecosystems including the unique forests of Borneo, the marine wealth of the Coral Triangle, the Mekong region’s diverse habitats, as well as the mountainous Eastern Himalayas.

“Across the Asia-Pacific region, the gap between human demand for natural resources and the environment’s ability to replenish those resources is widening,” said WWF’s Director General Jim Leape.  

The new report uses the Living Planet Index (LPI) to measure changes in the health of ecosystems across the Asia-Pacific region. The global index fell by 28 per cent from 1970 and 2008, while the Indo-Pacific region saw a shocking 64 per cent decline in key populations of species over the same period.

Regional solutions for the health of the planet 

The Ecological Footprint and Investment in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific report outlines four key solutions that are working to reverse the declining Living Planet Index in four major regions: the Heart of Borneo, the Coral Triangle, the Greater Mekong sub-region and the Eastern Himalayas. All of these areas are extremely important as they provide millions of people with food, water and energy – and harbour countless valuable species of plants and animals.

Public policies that recognize and incentivize the central importance of the environment in economic development planning processes is one part of the equation, says the report, as are well-funded and monitored marine and terrestrial protected areas. Private-sector sustainability initiatives and payment for ecosystem services, including programmes such as REDD+, also play an important role in the transition to a sustainable future.

The Heart of Borneo (HoB), a three government led initiative to protect and sustainably develop an area of 220,000km2 of rainforest is becoming a living laboratory for sustainability.

WWF’s Heart of Borneo leader Adam Tomasek, said: “In the HoB, we are developing solutions that show how the biodiversity, forests and ecosystems can become the engines for green growth, in a green economy. WWF and partners aim to showcase the tangible economic and social benefits of sustainable management, or simply put, that the forests of the HoB are actually worth more standing than cut down,” he said.

“Under the Heart of Borneo Initiative, the three governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia are beginning to integrate the value of forests, biodiversity and watershed services into national and local development plans, and to optimize economic returns to improve livelihoods. This not only sustains biodiversity and reduces greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation – but it actually enhances natural capital. Future generations become better off, not worse off, and economies move to a low carbon and green growth path”, he added.

It is a pathway supported by the Asian Development Bank – co-authors of the report.
“The Heart of Borneo... is introducing a management regime based on community empowerment and the use of market-based measures to reduce incentives for converting forests into palm oil or pulpwood plantations”, said ADB President, Haruhiko Kuroda, at a recent Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi, India.

“ADB is pleased to be a strong supporter of these large-scale programmatic initiatives, together with a wide range of global and local partners. The green economy itself can become an engine of growth and the driver for a new generation of green jobs—bringing a higher quality of life,” President Kuroda said.

The Future We Need - Rio+20 Summit

Released on World Environment Day and only three weeks before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Ecological Footprint and Investment in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific report presents a solution-oriented look at what leaders attending the Earth Summit need to focus on most – reconfirming their commitment to creating a sustainable future.

“The challenges presented in the Asia-Pacific footprint report show us that we are living beyond our means. But it also clearly identifies attainable solutions that build on the strength of partnerships at local, regional and international levels,” said Leape. “Rio+20 offers governments, businesses and civil society a unique opportunity to develop even more innovative solutions to ensuring we preserve the natural wealth of our planet,” he added.
--ENDS--
 

Notes to editors

A full copy of the report is available for download at http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/footprint_and_investment_in_natural_capital_in_apac.pdf

Images illustrating the content of the report can be found at
https://photos.panda.org/gpn/external?albumId=4253

‘Evergreen’ video can be found at
http://gvn.panda.org/pages/search.php?search=%21collection1751

To download graphs and infographics used in the report visit
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11626130/2012_APAC_footprint_graphs.zip

For further information on the Heart of Borneo:

Adam Tomasek, Leader, Heart of Borneo Initiative, WWF
Tel: +62 21 7829461 Ext. 422, Fax: +62 21 7829462, Mobile: +62 8119917855
E-mail: atomasek@wwf.or.id

Chris Greenwood, International Communications Manager, Heart of Borneo Initiative, WWF
Tel: +60 128281214 E-mail: cgreenwood@wwf.org.my

For further information on the new report:

Chris Chaplin, WWF International
Singapore: +65 9826 3802 (June 3 – 6) or Beijing: +86 13911747472
Email: cchaplin@wwf.sg

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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