brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia recently signed a pact to protect the biodiversity-rich Borneo forests, which spans the three countries. Signed in Bali, the declaration moots measures for conservation of nearly 22 million hectares (ha) of the equatorial rainforest, which faces threats from the growing palm oil industry in the region.
The 'Heart of Borneo Conservation Initiative' mandates sustainable management of the forests--home to 13 primate species, including the endangered orangutan, 150 reptile species, over 350 bird species, and around 15,000 plant species. The declaration has already found many supporters; the us has pledged to offer us$100,000 to help advance the initiative.
The pact also rejects a Chinese plan on large-scale palm oil production that risks 1.8 million ha of forestland in the area. wwf had recently warned that the plant would ruin upland forests, wildlife and endanger indigenous people of Borneo. Earlier, a report by Friends of the Earth, a uk-based organisation, had linked palm oil demands with the extinction of orangutans. The report had called for urgent intervention and cautioned that the palm oil trade would otherwise kill off Asia's only great ape by 2017.