Borneo’s rainforest is approximately 130 million years old… which is roughly twice as old as the Amazon! With trees holding up to 1,000 species of insects, an island where 6,000 of the 15,000 plants are endemic, and around a couple hundred different species of mammals- Borneo is teeming in biodiversity. An average of three new species are discovered each month on this incredible, relatively large, island. In fact, Borneo is the third largest island in the world!
As the rest of the planet faces challenges brought on by humankind, Borneo is also experiencing an alarming rate of loss. The forests are shrinking as they are being cut down for oil palm plantations and tropical timber. Animals are becoming critically endangered as their habitat becomes fragmented. Half a million indigenous people rely on this rainforest as do countless species... many still undiscovered! Arguably the most critical function of these forests in the Heart of Borneo is the production of oxygen as they act as the lungs of the world combatting climate change.
I’m beginning to discover many groups of people starting initiatives on the island to take on these heavy environmental problems. There is the Center for Renewable Energy & Appropriate Technology [CREATE] who I will be volunteering with when I first arrive. CREATE assists indigenous communities to develop and harness their resources on their own terms while incentivizing environmental stewardship. There is also the research facility, Danau Girang Field Centre, where I will spend the majority of my time assisting scientists to help mitigate the loss of Asian Biodiversity. Stay tuned if you want to follow these projects!
It is important to also note that the Dayak people, indigenous to Borneo, are making huge strides in combating issues such as climate change. I have read that at least one of the tribes has adopted the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation [REDD] program. By saving trees and preventing emissions the tribe receives “REDD credits” that are exchanged on the market to corporations that wish to offset their carbon emissions. This is pretty great and should definitely become more mainstream! The Elliott Forest, here in Oregon, should definitely be adopting this sort of model. Its Old Growth ecosystem is currently being threatened as it is put up for sale under the guise of funding education by cutting down the forest. Find out more about carbon credits.
As my departure date creeps up quickly… Borneo continues to leave much to my imagination! I hope you choose to discover Borneo a long with me in the weeks that follow.