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 Heart of Borneo social and economic values

The Heart of Borneo’s natural capital has significant social and economic value at local, national and global levels.

This includes social values related to traditional knowledge and sacred sites, the value of biodiversity and ecosystems in creating resilience to a changing climate and the value of ecosystem goods and services used as inputs within multiple sectors of Borneo’s economy. However, the many values of HoB’s natural capital remain poorly recognised.

Losing natural capital

The Heart of Borneo’s natural capital has sharply eroded in recent years. As natural capital is lost, ecosystem goods and services decline. Climate change, coupled with deteriorating ecosystems and biodiversity from land use change, is having further impacts, including sea level rise, risk of floods and fires and changes in the duration and intensity of wet and dry seasons.

The unsustainable practices of one economic sector are having impacts on other sectors and on local people. Few industries are taking into account the high costs of reduced or lost ecosystem services, which are eroding their long-term economic prospects and viability.

The many values of HoB’s natural capital—including its critical role in the economy, in supporting broader human welfare and in creating resilience to climate change—remain poorly recognised.

Pathway to a green economy

Shifting to a green economy that values and invests in natural capital would help to sharply reduce many of these negative trends, while supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Its creation depends on the incorporation of natural capital values into economic policies and private sector decision making.

The potential benefits of such a shift include reduced poverty, more rapid growth, stronger local economies and enhanced resilience to climate change. A green economy is essential to ensuring long-term, sustainable economic growth and development.

Action NOW

HoB is a prime example of a coordinated transboundary approach in which a green economy vision—as outlined in the HoB Declaration—is being transformed into reality. However, urgent action is still required by governments and other stakeholders, working in partnership.

The cost of action is far less than the cost of inaction.

What is natural capital?

"Natural capital is the extension of the economic notion of capital (manufactured means of production) to goods and services relating to the natural environment. Natural capital is thus the stock of natural ecosystems that yields a flow of valuable ecosystem goods or services into the future. For example, a stock of trees or fish provides a flow of new trees or fish, a flow which can be indefinitely sustainable. Natural capital may also provide services like recycling wastes or water catchment and erosion control. Since the flow of services from ecosystems requires that they function as whole systems, the structure and diversity of the system are important components of natural capital."
The Encyclopedia of Earth

What is a green economy?

“A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.”
United Nations Environment Programme 

Green economy in action


Ecotourism: a form of travel that aims to offer a unique tourist experience while at the same time improve the well-being of local communities and the environment. It’s treading softly during your adventures, taking care.

Ecotourism in the Heart of Borneo offers a pathway to a more sustainable future for local communities. It provides an alternative way to generate income for communities while protecting the natural environment.

Involving communities in ecotourism development is critically important in order to achieve broad and equitable benefits. Equally important is that the communities maintain control over the level and kind of tourism they want in their land.

Community based ecotourism

West Kalimantan: Kapuas Hulu

Home to Indonesia’s longest river, the Kapuas, and two National Parks nominated as World Heritage and Ramsar sites by UNESCO, West Kalimantan is a great place to explore Borneo’s heart.

WWF works closely with Komunitas Pariwisata Kapuas Hulu (KOMPAKH), a community based ecotourism organisation in the Kapuas Hulu district of West Kalimantan. KOMPAKH began in 2005 as a way to promote responsible tourism to the Kapuas Hulu district. It also supports the well-being of local communities.

Offering a range of tourism packages, KOMPAKH’s vision is to:
  • Raise awareness and ensure conservation of cultural and natural wealth in local communities
  • Encourage sustainable and responsible tourism in the Kapuas Hulu district
  • Optimise tourism service quality and support the welfare of the Kapuas Hulu community
  • Maximise the involvement of local communities in sustainable and responsible tourism
  • Promote widely information on the natural and cultural attractiveness of Kapuas Hulu.

East Kalimantan: Pujungan and BahauHulu, in the Malinau District, and the sub-districts of Krayan and Krayan Selatan

Supported by WWF and the local government, communities in Hulu Pujungan, Hulu Bahau (Malinau) and the Krayan Highlands (Nunukan) have been working together to progress ecotourism projects since 2002.

The sub-districts of Pujungan and Bahau Hulu, in the Malinau District, and the sub-districts of Krayan and Krayan Selatan, in the Nunukan District, are part of the heart land of DayakKenyah, LunDayeh, Sa' ban and other groups who settled this area hundreds of years ago.

Some areas are ideal destinations for ecotourism expeditions and jungle trekking, short- and long-distance, amidst primary and secondary forest. A world of wild rivers adventures, old village sites and archeological remains, traditional culture and village life, and Dayak warm hospitality awaits visitors.

Sustainable forestry

The future of the Heart of Borneo region depends on the sustainable management of the timber industries that operate there.

There are several ways to achieve this: encouraging investment in good forestry practices, using financial and trade levers to promote improved management where it is needed and also promoting forest certification, such as that afforded by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Responsible palm oil

Outside the confines of the Heart of Borneo, there is still potential for oil palm expansion. Parts of Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) with degraded soils and vegetation may offer the best prospects, and WWF has identified such areas that have low biodiversity and other environmental values.

Industry-endorsed mechanisms such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and its “Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production” represent new economic opportunities in the oil palm sector to replace unsustainable forest conversion practices.

Factsheet 6: Sustainable palm oil production
Developing a strategy to support and promote sustainable palm oil production aims at encouraging corporations to engage in sustainable oil palm production practices. This engagement of corporations to adhere to credible global standards contributes towards conservation, allowing the continuity of economic activities while ensuring a decrease in conversion rates of forest areas into agricultural land.  
Dayak people welcoming guests 
© Doc. WWF
Dayak people welcoming guests
© Doc. WWF
Tropical rainforest near Berau demonstrating environmental and social functions of pre-FSC ... 
© Edward Parker
Tropical rainforest near Berau demonstrating environmental and social functions of pre-FSC certification. East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
© Edward Parker