Mongabay: The HEART OF BORNEO initiative, led by WWF, has received a lot of attention, but some are wondering if it will be effective. What do you think of the plan? Where is it insufficient? Will it be enough to protect Borneo`s biodiversity? The island of Borneo was once described as untouched and lush, known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. Often referred to as the lung of Southeast Asia, it now shows a tragic history of greed and destruction. Throughout my life, I have been committed to saving the environment and my beloved Borneo. In 2015, I participated in a popular initiative – we filed a lawsuit against President Jokowi and five ministers for their negligence in managing forest fires and haze and we won it. But this is not enough. We need more people to remain vigilant and put pressure on government and business to change the current economic model based on the destruction of nature for economic growth. While this is something to celebrate, there is still work to be done to ensure a sustainable future for Borneo`s forests. If palm oil prices rise due to changing commodity prices, effective government regulations and industry standards will be crucial. Conservation advocates in both states argue that true transformation requires state governments to do more to enforce existing laws and operate transparently.
Straumann and his organisation, Bruno Manser Fonds, are still on trial in Swiss courts over their allegations that the family assets of former Sarawak Prime Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud are linked to corruption in the forestry sector. Although the case has been going on for more than a year, Straumann says Jamilah Taib Murray, the daughter of the former leader who filed the lawsuit, has yet to explain the source of his wealth. The problems with this are multiple. First, it does not address the main issue – law enforcement. Simply investing in the protection of the existing system of protected areas and in enforcing wildlife protection laws would do much more. Secondly, the focus is on the highland forests in the interior of Borneo, where there are already several very large protected areas. Lowland forests are the most threatened, and lowland forests have the greatest biodiversity. The interests of the oligarchy have effectively weakened the function of the state by depriving the public of its rights, namely the constitutional right to a healthy environment and democratic rights. The flooding occurred after the government adopted a controversial policy – the passage of the Mining Act and the granting of special privileges to mining contractors.  Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, CEO of SFC, said in an emailed statement that the government had changed the organization`s status to allow it to enforce laws protecting wildlife, national parks and natural resources, allowing SFC to be “targeted and strategic” in forest conservation.
Sabah had forest protection laws on the books shortly after joining Malaysia, starting with its Forest Promulgation Act of 1968, which delineated land for both business and conservation, defining the categories of forests that are still in use today. The wooded areas are mainly owned by the State. In practice, however, Sarawak`s forest laws give officials and concessionaires great flexibility to set their own conditions. The Sarawak Forest Ordinance is similar to the Sabah Act in that it establishes categories of forest management, including commercial forests. The latest edition, adopted in 2015, aims to increase penalties for illegal logging, logging assaults and other crimes, and empower those responsible to enforce the law and investigate crimes. But finding the resources and willingness to implement the law remains a challenge in Sarawak. Peninsular Malaysia`s economy has long surpassed that of the Borneo states, with much of the peninsula`s prosperity and infrastructure development historically financed by the types of extractive industries and monocultures that officials are now denouncing in Borneo. A particular source of frustration for officials in Sabah and Sarawak is that local governments can only collect a fraction of what the federal government collects from the state-owned oil company Petronas, which drills in Sarawak waters. Harrison, who helps organize the 2008 ATBC-Asia-Pacific chapter meeting in Kuching on sustainable land use, goes on to explain that there could be opportunities for conservationists to work with oil palms for developers to ensure that existing forests are not converted into plantations and that palm oil can be produced sustainably. He adds that carbon offsets could ultimately provide a way to finance conservation and sustainable development efforts in areas where the forest still exists. After the drainage, the fires ravaged the area, destroying the remaining forest and wildlife, as well as new crops, filling the air over Borneo and beyond with thick smoke and mist, and releasing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The destruction has had a significant negative impact on the livelihoods of the people of the region.
It has caused significant smog-related health problems in half a million people with respiratory problems.  Call on governments to tackle the failing food system and protect people and nature, not businesses. In October 2018, Indonesia established the International Tropical Peatlands Centre to study the conservation and restoration of these important ecosystems that cover large parts of Borneo. Rahimatsah says the FMU program has been reasonably effective in preserving the sites and encourages companies to preserve some of the forest areas granted to them. “Of course, there are mischievous entrepreneurs, but those who sign the long-term contracts usually do a very good job,” he says. “Because they have been signing for 100 years, they are committed. » Mongabay: The Nature Reserve in the Heart of Borneo is limited to the central part of Borneo. What about the other protected areas on the island? What is the best way to protect them and preserve biodiversity in artificial landscapes? While the authors of the study point out that the fall in crude oil prices since 2011 is the most important and direct cause of the decline in the expansion of industrial palm and pulp plantations, the role of governments, civil society and the private sector cannot be ignored. I was born here and have spent half my life on indonesia`s third largest island. Borneo is a treasure trove of biodiversity, one of the highest in the world. Its natural environment also stores a huge amount of carbon. Policies and activities developed to implement NDCs and REDD+ must take into account the role of law enforcement in the forest sector.
However, he says, concessionaires have difficulty taking advantage of degraded forest, so they have little to invest in conservation; Most of these areas have little wood, and the land is devoid of topsoil and therefore needs to be fortified for growing plants, a process that is both time-consuming and expensive. Mongabay: Why are figs important for rainforest ecology? But while promoting the changes, environmental officials and Prime Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg have used them as an opportunity to reaffirm state sovereignty and stress that the federal government has no say in local environmental issues. Mongabay: How did you become interested in this area of work? Harrison: Try visiting the tropics — especially if you can volunteer to work with existing projects, or if you can do the same and organize an undergraduate expedition. Outside of practice, it is good to have the experience of living and working in the tropics before deciding on postgraduate studies. Borneo Slideshow: Click on the image to read it. Enlarged version of the slideshow| So states can do whatever they want with their forests, unless there is enough pressure from outside, says Lukas Straumann, director of the Swiss-based environmental nonprofit Bruno Manser Fonds and a longtime conservation advocate in Sarawak. Due to the particular nature of the Sabah Foundation`s relationship with the state and the specifics of its FMU contract, Rahimatsah claims that the concessions managed by the foundation are not strictly controlled by the state`s sustainable forest management conditions, which could lead to monitoring or exploitation. In addition to promoting sustainable banking practices, UN Environment has helped the Indonesian government improve its integrated management of peat and forest fires through the United Nations REDD programme, a multi-agency UN initiative that promotes forests as the main natural solution to global warming through climate action. However, Straumann says some of these efforts came too late to make a real difference in protecting forests: Almost all of the state`s forests have already been broken up into concessions, leaving little room for the expansion of the timber industry. “Outside the fully protected areas, there are no more intact forests,” Straumann explains. To this end, UN Environment`s Finance Initiative is working with banks on a new initiative called the Principles for Responsible Banking.
The principles provide the industry with a unified framework that anchors sustainability at the strategic, portfolio and transactional levels. They align banks with the goals expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Banks are required to publicly report on their positive and negative impacts, their contribution to the company`s goals and their progress in implementing the Principles. In the 1980s and 1990s, Borneo`s forests were razed, burned, deforested and cleared at a rate unprecedented in human history, often replaced by agriculture. Deforestation continued at a slower pace in the 2000s, alongside the expansion of oil palm plantations. Half of the world`s annual tropical timber supply comes from Borneo.