The Sabah Forestry Department is working with the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF), a German-based NGO. Sabah officials say they will now ensure that the reserve and the restored areas will remain protected, excluding any conversion or logging in the future.
Good to know that some governments have common sense. Well done Sabah.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that it would be irresponsible to relocate the state’s iconic wildlife such as the proboscis monkeys, Borneo pygmy elephants and orang utan.
“Moving them elsewhere will compromise the animals’ survival chances outside their home (natural habitat),” he said in response to plans by the Malaysian Zoological Association for the animals to be relocated to Zoo Negara in Kuala Lumpur.
Read more at The Star.
Held in conjunction with Month of Photography Asia 2010, this exhibition by acclaimed National Geographic photographer Mattias Klum is a powerful and revealing testimony of the devastation of Borneo’s tropical rainforests, which are among the oldest and most biologically diverse in the world. Forest-dwelling people, such as the Penan have depended on Borneo’s rainforests for centuries to supply most of their needs in ways that do not threaten the integrity of these complex ecosystems. Today, the Penan way of life, and many native plant and animal species in Borneo, face increasing threats from deforestation.
Tebaran is a blowpipe hunter and one of the last nomadic Penan headmen, who is struggling to survive with his family in a world that is disappearing. Through the eyes of Tebaran, Klum takes us deep into the heart of Borneo where we experience the island’s diverse flora and fauna, and witness what could be at stake if the island’s majestic forests are lost forever.
Specialising in portraying and interpreting threatened environments, species, and cultures, Klum has dedicated over 20 years to exploring Borneo. On his longest expedition, he and his team carried around 1.3 tons of gear into the island’s interior, including camera and filmmaking equipment, solar panels for power, and a hot air balloon to provide aerial views of the forest. There, they worked from platforms 60 metres up in the tree canopies and hidden in blinds on the forest floor to show this amazing forest in a new way.
The Testament of Tebaran aims to not only raise awareness about traditional culture, biodiversity and forest loss in Borneo, but also to educate viewers on the positive difference we can make in our daily choices and through supporting key conservation efforts.
“Thoughtfulness begins with seeing. My job as a photographer is to make that seeing easier. What we appreciate and are fascinated by, we will also want to preserve.” – Mattias Klum
Date: 3 July 2010
Time: 10am – 12pm
Venue: Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum
More details here.
The population of saltwater crocodiles in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei has increased dramatically in the past decade that they could be removed from the endangered list.
The positive development was due to the respective governments implementing management plans to save the once severely depleted wild population of crocodiles.
Read more at The Star.
Do you know a place where orang utans, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, hornbills and many other exotic species call their home? Where you can fall asleep under the canopy of a dense tropical forest. Where you receive morning calls from gibbons and feel the forest mist on your skin. Where indigenous people speak their own languages and follow their unique traditions.
Nope, this is not about Pandora (the lush moon in Avatar inhabited by the Na’vi). I’m talking about Borneo, right here on Earth. Borneo is the third largest island in the world. On this island, three countries, namely Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, share a massive spread of tropical rainforests. The Borneo rainforest is probably as significant to Southeast Asia as the Congo is to Africa and the Amazon to South America. And like other rainforests, it is threatened by logging, the clearing of trees to make way for plantations etc.
One man has made it his career to protect the Borneo forests even though it is not his homeland. The man is Adam J. Tomasek who comes from the US and works for WWF. He was in town last Saturday (30th January 2010) to give a talk at the Vivocity National Geographic store to tell people about Borneo, or more specifically, about the Heart of it. The Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative is an ambitious project to conserve a transboundary, 220,000 km² area of equatorial rainforest in Borneo.
It was a privilege to have a short chat with Adam after his talk to hear about his experiences as leader for the HoB initiative.
Adam described his work as “dynamic” with lots of interactions with different people and taking place at many different levels. It can be international such as presenting at COP15 in Copenhagen or down to the grassroots, like working with indigenous people, the Dayaks. And the interactions spread geographically as well. While Adam is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, he also works with people in Malaysia and Brunei and an advisory group which has experts from other countries such as US and Japan. With such a diverse working environment, it is no wonder that Adam described his position as being in the “eye of the storm” and emphasized how having a strong team is important to get the work done. His awareness that “what makes sense” may be region specific and his openness to suggestions from his Indonesian or Malaysian colleagues on what actions are appropriate for the region probably benefits his work too.
I asked Adam what is his style of leadership, him being the leader of this initiative. From Adam’s words, I sensed that he is a leader who believes in empowering his people. He thinks it’s more important to believe that “people want to do the right thing” rather than to focus on differences. Also, he seeks to “find common ground” amidst the cultural diversity and wide geographical spread of his working environment. Adam also spoke about “expecting a lot from your people” and jokingly remarked that it also means “people expect a lot from you too”.
Working for the HoB has its ups and downs. One “down” moment was when there was a plan for a large 2 million hectare oil palm plantation just before the declaration was signed. Another “down” happened a year ago, when there was an Indonesian proposal to build a new road network that will cut through HoB. Not only would a road fragment the forest but the road will also make it easier for loggers and developers to venture deeper into the HoB. Thankfully, this proposal was eventually stopped. And even more thankfully, there was a chance to turn this challenge into an opportunity. For this incident sparked off an evaluation effort to assess the environmental impact of infrastructure development. So next time the governments will know where roads can be built with lesser environmental impact.
Perhaps the “ups” for Adam is the pride in seeing the HoB initiative translated from “just a piece of paper” declaration to actual actions and seeing a “genuine commitment”. And his amazing experiences in Borneo which he says one “can’t put a price on”, sounded like wonderful job perks too! He recalled the occasion where he encountered a clouded leopard and its cub on a road, how once they enter the forest, they are completely camouflaged. Wow! From this city girl’s perspective, that was definitely a moment worth remembering for a lifetime!
You know how they say people cannot see the forest for the trees? After speaking to Adam and learning more about the HoB, I have the reverse thought; that oftentimes we cannot see the trees for the forest. It’s never just about another area of forested land or another carbon sink. To the Dayaks, the orang utans, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, hornbills and the more-than-360-species discovered in the last ten years, this place is home. By helping to protect the Heart of Borneo, we are ensuring that the indigenous people can sustain their unique way of life and the various species can continue to thrive.
So, cheesy as it may sound, here’s wishing that the Heart of Borneo will go on and on…