Indonesia Signals Intent to Conserve Borneo’s “Lungs of the World”

Source : WWF – 26 January 2012

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree on Jan 5 authorising conservation of at least 45 percent of its share of the island of Borneo, known as Kalimantan.

The decree covers a massive area of more than 250,000 km2 encompassing vast tracts of rainforest in the Heart of Borneo and landscapes beyond.

“At least 45 percent of Indonesian Borneo will serve as the lungs of the world… with the plan ensuring that local ecosystems are protected and the biodiversity of the island is allowed to flourish,” a presidential press release said. 

Indonesia is rated as the world’s third-worst emitter of greenhouse gases with emissions mainly due to deforestation caused by expanding palm oil, timber and pulp & paper industries.

“We hope with the decree, Indonesia will be able to meet its target of reducing gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020,” forestry ministry secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, told the international media.

The regulation looks to promote the sustainable use of the island’s resources while ensuring an ambitious network of conservation areas are linked together by a series of “ecosystem corridors”. In addition, existing protected areas are to be strengthened and degraded areas rehabilitated.

A new measure of capital?

The Presidential press release also noted that Kalimantan would become a center for plantations of palm oil, rubber and other sustainable forest products, an issue which has raised concerns amongst some international organizations.

Adam Tomasek, head of the WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative, believes the new decree offers a fantastic opportunity to secure the future of Borneo as a place where sustainable development exists in balance with a practical and beneficial conservation regime. However, the targets set out in the regulation will not be met unless the values of ecosystems and biodiversity, or ‘natural capital’, become key features of future economic development planning.

“WWF has been working for a long time with both National and local governments to develop spatial plans, and engage businesses and communities to drive conservation and sustainable development in Borneo. The decree is a leadership statement from the President of Indonesia that will help ensure the previous commitments on the Heart of Borneo will be met,” Mr Tomasek said.

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