Amid Deforestation, Borneo Faces a New Threat

Tropical regions of the world are home to a vast wealth of biodiversity, the extent of which has not yet been fully realized. Since 1996, more than 350 plant and animal species new to science have been discovered on the island of Borneo alone — and undoubtedly there are more out there.

Though climate change poses a serious challenge to these beautiful landscapes, it is far from the only risk that they face. Indonesia, a quickly-developing country with a booming population, has seen deforestation claim nearly 80 percent of its forests in only three decades. Extensive logging and mining have driven a large amount of the land conversion in this resource-rich nation and have left thousands of endemic species on the verge of complete disappearance. Furthermore, exploitative business practices have left many people in the region impoverished despite large-scale exportation of resources.

But for Borneo, which contains parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, the trouble doesn’t stop there. In Sabah, located on the north end of the island, a Malaysian utility company is pushing forward with plans for the construction of a 300-Megawatt coal-burning power plant. Already twice relocated and delayed due to strong opposition from local populations and environmental groups like Green SURF, this plant could compromise the area’s coral reefs and diverse rainforests and degrade the air and water supply.

But there is hope. Efforts — both by CI-Indonesia and the Malaysian government — strive for the development of green economies and the protection of natural ecosystems. Methods like REDD+, a tool designed to help promote forest conservation through monetary incentives and sustainable economic growth, may provide solutions for the region to preserve both the biodiversity and the services that its rainforests provide for the people of Borneo and beyond.

At the U.N. climate negotiations currently taking place in Cancun, Mexico, CI is supporting governments as they attempt to advance discussions on important climate change actions, including REDD+. Learn more about our engagement at this meeting.

Josh Richards works on CI’s climate strategy team.

Comments

  1. GARTH SPOONER says

    Indonesia to me only means a great holiday for the rich and well off.As a place I think it deserves everything that befalls it be it tsunami,earthquake,volcanic eruption and flood and mudslide.As they deprave their fauna and flora the means to live then take the easy way out in palm oil plantations and mining,deforestation so they will reap what they’ve sown.No hope for this region unless they undo the harm they have wrought on their tiny little landmass.Yet another region which deserves everything it gets now.

    1. RACH says

      and to the same extent, every Western nation deserves to suffer simultaneous tsunamis, earthquakes, fire storms, hurricanes, floods and volcano eruptions for the next millennium for the crimes we have committed. The complete decimation of landscapes to such an extent that the concept of a “natural” space is far gone and the bringing of entire, and once widespread species to extinction is even worse than anything that is going on in Indonesia currently. Be wary when making such harsh statements as it is often a case of the pot calling the kettle black…

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