Posted on 18 April 2013
“The HoB is a very important area in terms of biodiversity, as a home to indigenous people, for its cultural values and as a water tower of the Borneo Island. As the degradation of our planet’s natural places are rapidly accelerating, it’s very important to understand the amazing values that the forests and other natural places in the HoB have. They are extremely unique to this planet and people should be very proud of that!” (Maija Kaukonen, WWF-Finland)
She may live all the way over in Finland but Maija Kaukonen is very much connected to the Heart of Borneo.
As a Forest expert with WWF Finland’s International Development program, Maija is responsible for coordinating WWF Finland’s role in the Muller-Schwaner project, a project Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs has been funding for almost 6 years.
Working closely with WWF Indonesia, Maija tries to visit the project site at least once each year. The distance between the two countries can make things a little difficult: “one challenge is to have enough time amongst my other work to have regular communication with Indonesian colleagues and to do more,” Maija says.
But working with such motivated and enthusiastic WWF Indonesia staff makes life easier.
“When I visited the HoB last year, I was amazed how our field officers and colleagues are doing amazing work since it’s so difficult to travel around over there, distances are long, you have to use a plane, car, boats and walk to get to the remote villages. Still our colleagues have the motivation and enthusiasm doing this difficult work. I truly respect their effort!”
“It’s very rewarding to hear success stories from our Indonesian colleagues and especially the project field officers. The work that our project people are doing together with some forest concession companies close to the HoB borders, mapping orangutan habitats, developing orangutan management plans and implementing FSC-certification is very rewarding!”
Creating a pathway to a green economy in the Heart of Borneo is a key part of the work being conducted on the Muller-Schwaner project.
“It’s important to be able to truly implement green economy activities on the ground and show decision makers it’s really possible to make things differently. We also want to show these examples in Finland to make people understand that we need different solutions for our planet’s future.”
“People in Finland are very interested in rainforests and unique species such as orangutans and the Borneo pygmy elephant,” Maija says.
“The HoB is a very important area in terms of biodiversity, as a home to indigenous people, for its cultural values and as a water tower of the Borneo Island. As the degradation of our planet’s natural places are rapidly accelerating, it’s very important to understand the amazing values that the forests and other natural places in the HoB have. They are extremely unique to this planet and people should be very proud of that!”
It’s not all work and no play. Last year Maija stayed in a village in the Heart of Borneo area of Central Kalimantan who had arranged a welcoming ceremony and party.
“First we were all covered with lotion and powder while people were singing and dancing and then later on the dancing went on for several hours without any breaks! Although I was exhausted in the end of the day after all the dancing, it was really unique experience!”