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Heart of Borneo milestones
Step by step, a retrospective of achievements
Heart of Borneo: from plan to realityThe Declaration to conserve the "Heart of Borneo" is officially signed between the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The tri-country declaration will conserve and sustainably manage one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000 km2 of equatorial rainforests (almost a third of the island).
Why its a milestoneThe declaration is the successful culmination of 3 years of intense negotiations, research and planning, to ensure that the conservation of the Heart of Borneo tops the environmental agendas of the 3 Bornean governments.
In the words of Dato Seri Azmi bin Khalid, Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, "This event is more than symbolic as it represents a commitment between our three countries to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo."
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Heart of Borneo declaration press release
Cross-Pacific ties boost Heart of Borneo programme
During her visit to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice officially announced the US Government’s intention to support the Heart of Borneo. The US Government released a press statement on August 2nd entitled : "Heart of Borneo" Conservation Initiative To Receive U.S. Funds - Project preserves equatorial rainforest in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei." The Secretary of State pledged US$100,000 to help advance the project, with funds disbursed through both WWF and the International Tropical Timber Organization.
The political significance of this gesture has rippled across the region, highlighting the growing international support for the Heart of Borneo.
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WWF Statement on US pledge
New heights for Indonesian commitmentThe Indonesian Government held its final Heart of Borneo planning meeting with 76 participants from 9 Central Government Ministries (Forestry, Economy, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Agriculture, Internal Affairs, Mapping and Survey Agency); 8 District Government and the 3 Provincial Governments.
The meeting, co-hosted by 3 Ministries ( Forestry, Foreign Affairs and Economy), pushed up the Heart of Borneo on the national agenda. Participants agreed to:
- a political process towards the Heart of Borneo Declaration;
- awareness raising of the Heart of Borneo at district/government/community level;
- arrange a tri-lateral government meeting (hosted by the Indonesian Government) prior to the Declaration during the ASEAN Summit in December 2006.
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia commit to the Heart of Borneo initiativeThe Heart of Borneo is officially launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity conference by the 3 Bornean governments – Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The 3 countries assert their commitment to support the initiative.
Why it’s a milestoneThis commitment is a landmark for the Heart of Borneo. A formal Declaration is now needed from the 3 Bornean countries to pave the way for increased international collaboration to improve the management of the region.
The announcement also spells the end of plans to create the world’s largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan, along Indonesia’s mountainous border with Malaysia. The scheme was expected to cover an area of 1.8 million hectares and would have had long-lasting, damaging consequences on the Heart of Borneo.
WWF has repeatedly stated that new oil palm plantations are better suited on degraded, non-forested land, and should be established there instead.
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Why it’s a milestoneTwo of the 3 Forest Reserves, Ulu Segama and Malua Forest Reserves, are part of the proposed Heart of Borneo area. Conserving these areas will protect the habitat of Borneo species such as the orang-utan, pygmy elephants, rhinos and banteng.
Presidential support for the Heart of BorneoWWF’s Director General, Jim Leape, meets the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. During the meeting, the President affirms his support for the Heart of Borneo and gives his "assurance" that the development of oil palm plantations will not interfere with this important region.
Why it’s a milestoneSecuring a meeting with the President of Indonesia to discuss the conservation of a region is very rare. Obtaining a commitment for conservation from the highest level is even more unusual – and all the more promising for the Heart of Borneo conservation initiative.
ASEAN endorses Heart of Borneo principles
The Chairman’s statement at the 11th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, highlights the importance of providing sanctuaries in the Heart of Borneo, to conserve the island’s biological diversity and protect its water catchments.
During the Summit, the Heart of Borneo is included as a flagship programme in the 5-year work plan of an ASEAN forum – the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area) - which is endorsed by the heads of government.
Why it’s a milestoneThe highest decision-making organ of ASEAN is the Meeting of the ASEAN Heads of State and Government. The Chairman’s Statement is the official record of the meeting and is endorsed by the heads of all the governments present.
The statement and the inclusion of the Heart of Borneo in the BIMP-EAGA work plan shows how the initiative is moving up on the political agenda in Southeast Asia.
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Why it’s a milestoneIt is extremely rare nowadays to discover a mammal species of this size, particularly a carnivore. This potential new species in Borneo would be the first since the discovery of the Borneo ferret-badger…in 1895!
This discovery highlights the importance of the Heart of Borneo as a repository of rare species, including plants whose compounds could help treat or cure diseases such as cancer, AIDS and malaria.
Why it’s a milestoneThe workshop results in a draft Heart of Borneo Declaration, an agreement on the extent of the boundary within Indonesia and an action plan for the declaration and future implementation.
The Minister of Forestry personally informs the Indonesian President, other Ministerial departments and the other 2 Bornean countries, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, about the significant results of the workshop.
A prince’s commitment advances Heart of Borneo cause“Looking into the eyes of an orphaned baby orang-utan is a look you'll never forget…” In response to the last public statement of the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands initiates, together with WWF, a cultural event to benefit the Heart of Borneo.
The event is attended by among others, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, ambassadors from Indonesia and Brunei, and the private sector.
Why it’s a milestoneIn addition to support given for the Heart of Borneo initiative, significant funds are raised. Crucially, the CEO of WWF-Malaysia meets privately with the Prime Minister and his delegation regarding the Heart of Borneo.
Indonesian districts go for Heart of Borneo conceptThree district heads in Kalimantan’s (Indonesian Borneo) Muller and Schwaner regions sign a declaration in support of the Heart of Borneo.
There are 8 local government districts in Kalimantan that overlap with the Heart of Borneo. In each one, the locally elected leader is responsible for natural resources management.
Why it’s a milestoneThe district endorsement of the Heart of Borneo is a significant step in securing local support for the area. Moreover, it contributes to building momentum for a national commitment to the Heart of Borneo conservation initiative.
Attended by over 150 representatives from government and non-governmental agencies of the 3 countries, the workshop makes a case for the benefits of large-scale conservation, reviews issues facing the uplands of Borneo, and promotes the need for effective transboundary activities.