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VAE > News

Protecting the heart of Borneo

In Southeast Asia, the island of Borneo is home to one of the world's most diverse rainforests, but its natural resources are under threat. Information from satellites is being used to evaluate the impact of the island's future development.

The mountainous island is the third largest in the world. It is an area of exceptional biological diversity and its natural resources have tremendous social and economic value at local, national and global levels.

While still of great importance, these resources have diminished in recent years due to logging, plantation development, mining and forest fires.

The ecosystems in the heart of Borneo provide many local, regional and global services and benefits, said Anna van Paddenburg, Sustainable Financing and Policy Strategy Leader for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia.

The mountainous forests form the headwaters of most of Borneo's 20 major rivers, providing water for agriculture, human consumption, and industry.

The forests provide timber and non-timber forest products, and store huge amounts of carbon.

The diverse ecosystems support endemic plants and animals, which supports eco-tourism and pharmaceutical research.

While it is widely recognised that healthy ecosystems provide services that play a critical role in maintaining individual and societal welfare, the benefits that flow from them are not always accounted for in government and private sector decision-making.

In an effort to protect the environment and develop the area in a sustainable way, the Heart of Borneo conservation agreement was initiated by WWF and signed by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei in 2007.

In December 2010, WWF initiated an assessment of Borneo's natural capital to quantify and understand the value of ecosystem services and benefits.

ESA provided technical assistance through Hatfield Consultants, a Canadian environmental and geomatics consulting company that has been working in Indonesia for 20 years, and NEO BV, a value-adding data provider.