A Third of Borneo tobe Conserved Under New Rainforest Declaration
12 February 2007
Bali, Indonesia — Anhistoric declaration to conserve the Heart of Borneo was officially signedtoday between the three Bornean governments – Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia andMalaysia. The tri-country declaration will conserve and sustainably manage oneof the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, coveringapproximately 220,000 square kilometres of equatorial rainforests almost athird of the island.
“This is an historic occasion which marks new collaboration between ourthree countries,” said MS Kaban, the Indonesian Minister of Forestry.”This will put the Heart of Borneo on the world stage as one of the lastgreat blocks of forest in the world.” The Heart of Borneo Declaration,signed by ministers from the three South-east Asian countries at an officialceremony held in Bali, is a lifeline for Borneos rainforests that arethreatened by unsustainable logging, forest fires and forest conversion forplantations. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased to anaverage of 2 million hectares per year and, today, only half of Borneosoriginal forest cover remains. The declaration also formally ends the plans tocreate the worlds largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan alongIndonesias mountainous border with Malaysia. The scheme supported byChinese investments was expected to cover an area of 1.8 million hectaresand would have had long-lasting, damaging consequences to the Heart of Borneo.
The island is home to 13 species of primates, 150 species of reptiles andamphibians, over 350 species of birds, and around 15,000 species of plants, andcontinues to be the source of many new discoveries more than 50 new specieswere discovered last year alone. “This event is more than symbolic as itrepresents a commitment between our three countries to conserve and sustainablymanage the Heart of Borneo, said Dato Seri Azmi bin Khalid, Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources andEnvironment.
“It has become clear since we started to discuss cooperation on the visionfor the Heart of Borneo that the world outside our countries is excited by whatwe are doing and is prepared to lend us support, said Pehin Dr Awang HajiAhmad bin Haji Jumat, Minister of Brunei Darussalams Industry and PrimaryResources.
“Future generations will look back on this occasion and admire theleadership and courage shown by the three governments today to conserve theHeart of Borneo,” said James Leape, WWF Internationals Director General.”That three countries have come together with a shared vision that willpromote sustainable development, protect vital natural resources and reducepoverty, should be an inspiration to everyone.”
WWF has supported the three governments in their desire to conserve the Heart ofBorneo since the announcement of their joint intention at the Convention on Biodiversity in Brazil in March 2006. “WWF stands ready toassist Borneos three governments in realizing the groundbreaking commitment they have made today,” added Leape.
For further information: Elshinta Marsden, Senior Communications Manager WWF-Indonesia Tel: +62 21 576 1070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Olivier van Bogaert, Senior Press Officer WWF International Tel: +41 22 364 95 54