Leaders endorse Heart of Borneo Declaration
Cebu, Philippines - A historic agreement to conserve the Heart of Borneo was officially endorsed today by the Heads of the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Leaders Statement at the Summit of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) outlined the importance of one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000 square kilometres of equatorial rainforests and numerous wildlife species.
We congratulate the three governments of Borneo for the groundbreaking conservation pledge they have made, said Dr Mubariq Ahmad, WWF Indonesias Executive Director. This shared vision will enhance the collaboration between the respective countries to promote sustainable development, protect vital natural resources and reduce poverty.
The agreement, endorsed at the 3rd BIMP-EAGA Summit being hosted by the Philippines, is a lifeline for the people and wildlife of Borneo that are threatened by increasing deforestation on the island. The Heart of Borneo is one of only two places on the planet where rhinos, elephants and orang-utans coexist. Since 1996, deforestation due to logging, forest fires and forest conversion for plantations, across Indonesia has increased to an average of 2 million hectares per year and today only half of Borneos original forest cover remains.
The Heart of Borneo harbours up to six per cent of the worlds total biodiversity, said Dr Dino Sharma Executive Director of WWF- Malaysia. The highlands and adjacent foothills along the borders of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia are vital for the people of Borneo, said Dr Sharma. The Heart of Borneo is the source of 14 of the islands 20 major rivers and conserving this precious region is essential for safeguarding the water and food security for the people of Borneo.
The island is home to 13 primate species, more than 350 bird species, 150 reptiles and amphibians and around 15,000 species of plants, and continues to be the source of many new discoveries - three species have been found every month over the past 10 years alone.
WWF has supported the three governments in their desire to conserve the Heart of Borneo- three countries, one conservation vision since the announcement of their joint intention at the Convention on Biodiversity in Brazil in March 2006. It is expected that the ministers of the three Bornean countries will sign the declaration at a ceremony during the first quarter of 2007.
WWF considers the Heart of Borneo to be one of the planets top global conservation priorities, said James Leape, WWF Internationals Director General. It is hugely important to maintain a large enough area of Borneo’s forests for the survival of the natural ecosystems and the people that depend on them. This is critical for sustainable development, and WWF stands ready to assist Borneo’s three governments in realizing the commitment they have made today.