Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is a place that has captured the imagination of the west for generations. Located in Southeast Asia and comprised of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the sultanate of Brunei, Borneo is home to one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests and is critical in the global struggle for environmental justice, saving endangered species, and the fight against climate change.
Among the planet’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, the forests in Borneo are home to thousands of endemic animal, reptile, insect and plant species as well as rhinos, hornbills, macaques, gibbons, tarsiers, slow loris and orangutans. Orangutans, a beloved species commonly associated with Borneo, are indigenous to that region of the world and are highly intelligent, with an ability to reason and think. Orangutans are also one of our closest relatives, sharing 98% of our DNA! Read more about Borneo’s unique biodiversity.
There are over 40 indigenous communities in Borneo, known under the umbrella term “Dayak”. Each one of these groups has their own unique culture, stories, art, and traditions. For countless generations, Borneo’s indigenous Dayak people farmed, hunted, and gathered in these forests. Under their stewardship, the forests were able to maintain the highest species diversity of any terrestrial ecosystem, supplying food, medicines, cash crops and building materials. Click here to learn more about the indigenous Dayak and human rights issues impacting these communities.
Conserving Borneo’s forests is vital to protecting our global climate. Forests act as large carbon sinks absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, while deforestation contributes to climate change both by destroying these existing carbon sinks and simultaneously releasing the carbon that’s stored within the forest itself. Forests store nearly 300 billion tonnes of carbon in their living parts – roughly 40 times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. Read more about Borneo and climate change.
Borneo’s rainforests are being lost at an alarming rate, threatening the indigenous people and animals who call that region home. With the advent of industrial logging and profitable palm oil plantations, the landscape of Borneo has changed dramatically, leaving many areas that used to be thriving ecosystems a lifeless monoculture. More recently, the expansion of mega-dams has begun threatening Borneo’s last remaining forests and ecosystems. Learn more about current threats to Borneo’s rainforests.