The commitment of the 3 countries was demonstrated in March 2006 at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Curitiba, Brazil. Now, WWF is working to translate this commitment into tangible actions on the ground.
The road that has taken the Heart of Borneo programme from its early concept to the tri-country launch in Brazil is a long and winding one. This has been a gradual process, led by WWF, to socialize the initiative at local and national levels.
The road to the Heart of Borneo
Ongoing efforts involve highlighting the major biological and economical value of the Heart of Borneo (e.g. species biodiversity, watershed significance) and helping to work out mechanisms for international collaboration to protect the area from unsustainable activities.
Where it all startedThe foundations of the Heart of Borneo’s transboundary collaboration were laid at a workshop in April 2005 that was hosted by the Brunei Darussalam government and facilitated by WWF.
The event, attended by over 150 representatives from the government and non-government agencies of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, presented the benefits of a large-scale conservation thinking, reviewed issues facing the uplands of Borneo, and promoted the need for effective transboundary partnership.
The event, which was also attended by representatives from UNESCO, ASEAN, IUCN, ITTO, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy and TRAFFIC, resulted in a consensus on a Vision and Action Plan to promote the declaration of the Heart of Borneo by 2006.
If the vision to maintain and protect our forests within a much larger area of forest is achieved, it would certainly put the whole of Borneo on the world map as the location of internationally significant conservation area.
Heart of Borneo on the ASEAN agendaThe progress that is being achieved at national levels meshes into regional milestones for the Heart of Borneo. A highlight was the inclusion of the Heart of Borneo in the official record of the annual ASEAN Summit. This followed the introduction of key text by the Malaysian government as hosts of the meeting.
This is a significant step because the Summit is the highest decision-making organ of ASEAN, and is also the Meeting of the ASEAN Heads of Government. Moreover, the Chairman’s Statement is the official record of the meeting and is endorsed by the Heads of all the governments present.
In December 2005, the Heart of Borneo was also adopted as a “flagship programme” of the 5-year development plan of BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area). This plan was endorsed by the Heads of Government of all 4 countries.
Making a case for the Heart of BorneoNational engagement is one of the key ingredients for the success of the Heart of Borneo initiative.
…in IndonesiaIn December 2005, Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry held a National Workshop on the Heart of Borneo, drawing more than 100 participants from 8 government departments and 10 districts in Kalimantan.
The workshop resulted 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. In a commendable show of partnership, these key outputs were communicated to the other 2 Bornean countries, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.
…in MalaysiaWWF-Malaysia has held briefings about the Heart of Borneo for government agencies and decision-makers at both Federal and State levels (Sabah and Sarawak) and the response has been positive: In March 2006, the government concluded that it would support the Heart of Borneo programme.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment took the lead in preparing for the tri-national Heart of Borneo meeting, hosted in July 2006 by the Indonesian Government.
…in Brunei-DarussalamSimilar progress has been achieved in Brunei-Darussalam. In partnership with WWF, the government held its National Heart of Borneo Planning Workshop in May 2006 and demonstrated eager support for the programme.
As an outcome of this workshop, the proposed area for inclusion under the Heart of Borneo increased from 11% to more than 59% of the country, including both totally protected areas and production forest.
The Heart of Borneo area in Brunei now extends from the interior upland borders, down through peat swamps to beach forests along the coast.