Bali, Indonesia – An historic declaration to conserve the “Heart of Borneo” was officially signed today between the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The tri-country declaration will conserve and sustainably manage one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world. The Heart of Borneo is an area of equatorial rainforest larger than Kansas, covering nearly a third of the island.
“The governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to work together to maintain the natural riches of the Heart of Borneo, while also supporting sustainable economic development in the area for the benefit of the local people,” said MS Kaban, Minister of Forestry, Indonesia.
The declaration, signed by ministers from the three Southeast Asian countries at an official ceremony held in Bali, is a lifeline for Borneo’s rainforests. The forests are threatened by unsustainable logging, forest fires and forest conversion for plantations. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased. Every year an area of forest nearly the size of New Jersey is lost. Today only half of Borneo’s original forest cover remains.
The island is home to 13 primate species, over 350 bird species, 150 reptiles and amphibians and around 15,000 species of plant, and continues to be the source of many new discoveries - more than fifty new species were discovered last year alone.
“The Heart of Borneo is one of the most biologically diverse habitats on earth and protecting this sanctuary could not be possible without the commitment and leadership of these three visionary governments,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. “This declaration is a monumental success for conservation and for the millions of people who rely on Borneo’s natural resources for their very livelihood. Enacting sustainable practices in this region will help ensure its preservation for generations to come.”
WWF has supported the three governments in their desire to conserve the Heart of Borneo since the announcement of their joint intention at the Convention on Biodiversity in Brazil in March 2006.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The Heart of Borneo declaration also formally ends the plans to create the world’s largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan along Indonesia’s mountainous border with Malaysia. The plan - supported by Chinese investments - was expected to cover an area larger than Connecticut and would have had long-lasting, damaging consequences to the Heart of Borneo.