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Are We Slowly Losing This Ancient Rainforest?

Efforts and regulations are key factors to maintaining the historic forest of Borneo


What's going on?

The forest of Borneo is home to 15,000 different plant species and 222 mammals – with 44 of these mammals are found only in Borneo. It is the second oldest rainforest in the world and is estimated to be about 140 million years old. Borneo is also the third-largest island in the world covering an area of 743,330 square kilometers. It is politically divided among three countries: Kalimantan that belongs to Indonesia; Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia; a small remaining region comprises the sultanate of Brunei.


Borneo has lost a notable portion of its forest to fire, deforestation and illegal logging. In the mid-1980s, the island had 75% of its forest cover. Today, only 50% remains untouched. Oil palm plantations are the main cause of deforestation in Borneo as Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest palm oil producers responsible for about 87% of the global supply. Indonesian Borneo, which accounts for 73% of the ‘island’s territory, lost the most forest at 3.74 million hectares where else Malaysian Borneo lost 2.29 million hectares of forest.


However, these nations have set sustainability standards in the past few years and took other regulatory steps to reduce deforestation. The fall of crude palm oil prices since 2011 has also contributed to the decrease in plantation expansion. Researchers concluded that attention from non-governmental organizations and media pressure also helped in reducing deforestation rates. Still, there is a lot of work to be done despite the positive progress of slowing deforestation.


Deforestation in Borneo is slowing, but regulation remains key