Borneo lowland rainforests are described as the world’s richest rainforests. According to international conservation group World Wildlife Fund, these forests could disappear in five years due to extensive logging and forest fires. The future of many plant and animal species, some only found in Borneo, is threatened.
Borneo is the world’s third largest island and its lowland rainforests host a species diversity comparable with that of the Amazon and New Guinea. The flora of Borneo consists of 10,000 – 15,000 species, richer than the flora of 40-times-larger Africa.
Today, the lowland rainforests of Borneo are threatened by logging and forest fires. More than 70% of its original rainforests have already gone. In addition to commercial logging, the rainforests are subject to agricultural projects whereby vast areas are cleared for plantations of oil palm, rubber or industrial timber for pulp and plywood.
Logging not only causes immediate habitat loss and degradation, but also makes the forest less fire-resistant. This explains the occurrence of devastating forest fires, for example the forest fires in Kalimantan, Indonesia, in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998. More than 50,000 square kilometres of rainforest burned down during these two incidents.
The government of Indonesia has received much criticism for its way of handling the issue of Borneo’s declining rainforests. The jurisdiction of Borneo is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. WWF wants to help these three nations to create a reserve of 22 million hectares in an area called “The heart of Borneo”.
Visit WWF's newsroom to learn more.