Saving Borneo: a case study.


The acceleration of development globally vs the increasing need to conserve vast tracts of natural ecosystems such as rainforests has become the debate of our world. Borneo is an excellent example of this. Increasingly it is realised that rainforest conservation is an important part of tackling climate change. On the other hand developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia increasingly seek opportunities to create wealth from their natural ‘assets’. Borneo provides those sort after opportunities.

Migration and economic polices in Indonesia have for years encouraged the development of Borneo. Deforestation has increased markedly thanks to slash and burn agriculture and growing urbanisation. The pie charts above show the alarming rate of deforestation. For more information on Borneo please go to this excellent site,

A recent agreement called the “Heart of Borneo” was signed by the three governments that share the island. This gives some grounds for optimism that conservation may have a future role to play with protecting Borneo’s central rainforest area. There have however been incursions into ‘protected’ areas before and a recent call from Indonesia’s environment minister for their conservation efforts to be ‘recognized’ sends a warning to the world that money talks.

CDM, carbon credits? Why not? Now there’s a worthwhile World Bank project if I ever saw one.

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6 Responses to Saving Borneo: a case study.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    I’ve made no secret of my preference for robust global intervention to preserve what’s left of the world’s environments. Leaving it to market forces just leaves regions like Borneo vulnerable to a better offer. The trouble with Kyoto is that it has no mechanisms to promote the preservation of existing forests and other critical eco-systems. As I recall, it only caters for emissions reduction and possibly mitigation of climate change impacts, perhaps someone can confirm or deny this?

  2. matt says:

    Indonesia is I believe rightly expecting payment for preserving its forests. I would obviously feel better if local people were seeing benefits from these funds.
    See for an intro that looks like its pointing in the direction of your query.

    A ‘carbon dioxide sink’ can be used as an ‘offset’ BUT, a sink is defined as a carbon reservoir that is increasing in size!

    This is the only bit I can find regards ‘avoided deforestation’; . Shocking really. I can’t see Indonesia having its way under Kyoto. This needs to change and fast.

  3. keithsc says:

    Perhaps the EC idea of set aside needs to be moved into the international arena – and fast.

  4. Alex Smith says:

    Considering rainforest fires contribute up to 20 percent of the Greenhouse Gases, I’ve wondered whether a combined buy-out scheme (as proposed by biologist E.O.Wilson) and international fire department might help save us from the worst of climate change.

    America and others send troops to defend oil, but not to help put out fires that load carbon into the atmosphere. Of course, the Chinese also play a role in Borneo’s destruction. They want tropical wood for their furniture factories, and more lately they have a multi-billion dollar deal to clear forests to get palm oil plantations. They can even burn the palm oil as fuel.

    I cover some of these issues, and a lot on climate change, in my weekly radio show in Vancouver Canada – plus I post tons of environment audio files on my website at Folks take away about 2 gigs of mp3 files a day. Check that out.

  5. Pete Smith says:

    “Perhaps the EC idea of set aside needs to be moved into the international arena – and fast”

    I know what you’re getting at Keith, but it’s actually the opposite of set-aside. Set-aside is subsidised fallowing of land previously used for agriculture. What we need for the world’s few remaining virgin eco-systems is something along the lines of the Environmental Stewardship payment. The trouble is it seems to be inevitable that these schemes bring a huge amount of bureaucratic baggage with them. Since its launch in August 2005, more than 4 million hectares – over 40 per cent of all farmland in England – is now entered into the Environmental Stewardship scheme. Land managers have received more than £50 million as a result. Now Natural England are looking to ‘raise the bar’ to make assessment of applications more rigorous and reduce the number of unsuccessful schemes.

  6. matt says:

    Good example Pete. I believe this is Euro funded as a result from a re-focus within the CAP agenda. About time too. It’s early days yet but hopefully lessons are learnt within the EU from the ES scheme that can then be taken to the UN for wider (global) consideration. Not sure the time is there though for bureaucracy to catch up.

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