Society Travel

Saving Borneo – Preventing The Collapse Of A Great Ecosystem

Borneo’s lush rain forest is endangered by the expansion of oil palm plantations. As hard as it may seem to believe, the countless products that list palm oil as one of their main ingredients are a threat to the most ancient forest on our planet.

Palm Oil Production and Its Worth

If petroleum is the most important oil in our modern word, palm oil is a serious contender. Palm oil production is a multi-billion business. This oil is one of the main ingredients in a wide range of products such as toothpaste, cosmetics, margarine, cookies, and even Nutella and Doritos. Chocolate bars would be full without the palm oil that makes them so enticing. This ingredient has conquered countries across all continents. Even in India it has replaced the unhealthy ghee, making this country the worldwide leader in palm oil consumption. This clear and tasteless oil is extracted from the nuts of Elais Guyanensis, the oil-palm tree, that grows in many regions around the Equator.

Home of Many Species

Borneo is home to 380 out of the 500 species of dipterocarps, those trees with two-winged fruits that thrive in tropical climates and use the power of wind to rise above the canopy. Out of all these species of dipterocarps, 250 are endemic, so you can only find them here, on Borneo. The tallest tropical tree in the world, Shorea Faguetana, grows here. It can reach 290 feet in height. Ten species of dipterocarps are so beautiful that logging companies cut them to make lumber for the Chinese market. In fact, China is currently the most important market for timber originating from Borneo.

Stunning butterflies and moths live in this primordial forest. Also, the Borneo rain forest is home to the Bornean wild pig, the pygmy elephant, pygmy rhinoceros, and even a species of orangutan that comes from the Sumatran, known as Pongo Pygmaeus. There is also a safe haven for these wonderful animals at Sepilock orangutan rehabilitation centre.

Home to Hunter Gatherers

The island is still home to hunter-gatherers who use blow guns and mark their paths through the forest with bet branches and folded leaves. These people can name 1,200 different trees and their corresponding spirits. Days on Borneo start with the sound of cicadas, the noise of gibbons, and the crazy tunes of bulbuls. Insects are rattling everywhere around, and birds sing as loudly as they can. It is amazing how all these sounds can create a harmonious tune, the audible signature of the rain forest.

The Result of Deforestation

Unfortunately, many of these species become extinct before they are even discovered by scientists. The burning of the forest should be banned for good. However, the on-site verification that there is no more deforestation is subject to corruption, since deforestation is such a lucrative endeavour. Very few people care about the strips of forest that should serve as wildlife corridors to protect these endangered species and to prevent them from becoming extinct. Under these circumstances, it is very hard to consider palm oil extraction a sustainable industry.

Bruno Manser Fonds is a Swiss NGO that has traced laundered money resulting from palm oil and found connections with the former chief minister. Apparently, the former chief minister and his family own a giant mall and condo complex in Ottawa, as well as a private golf course in the Arizona desert.

The Latest Update on Developments

The worst thing of all is that consumers aren’t aware of this bio-cultural genocide and its consequences. This is why we should all keep abreast of the latest developments of the Borneo rain forest situation. The more people become aware of these problems, the more chances to end the corruption and stop deforestation that kills wildlife and humans alike. Borneo deserves better than to die for the sake of lipstick, toothpaste and cookies. We can tun things around, but only if we stick together for the greater good.