Leaders endorse Heart of Borneo declaration

Posted on 12 January 2007   |  
The "Heart of Borneo" is one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world. Sabah, Malaysia.
© © WWF / A. Christy WILLIAMS
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.

A statement by leaders attending 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 220,000km2 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-Indonesia’s 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 Borneo’s original forest cover remains.

“The Heart of Borneo harbours up to six per cent of the world’s 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. The Heart of Borneo is the source of 14 of the island’s 20 major rivers and conserving this precious region is essential for safeguarding the water and food security for the people of Borneo.”

Borneo 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 ten 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 a meeting of the UN 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 planet’s top global conservation priorities,” said James Leape, WWF International’s 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.”


• The text of the Joint Leaders Statement for Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines – East ASEAN Growth AREA Summit (BIMP-EAGA) was as follows:

We welcomed and endorsed the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative to establish a network of protected areas, productive forests and other land-uses, that transcends across the borders of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, and which aims to maximize transboundary linkages, promotes the expansion of the Protected Areas, maintains forest connectivity and ensures sustainable land use practices. We will ensure an effective management, development and conservation of the areas, which they will designate as the HoB, within their own existing respective legal and institutional frameworks, with full respect to each country sovereignty and territorial boundaries and without prejudice to the ongoing negotiations on land boundary demarcation.

• At the 11th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December 2005, the Heart of Borneo was highlighted in the Chairman’s Statement endorsing the establishment of a transboundary network of protected areas in the Heart of Borneo. This meeting is the highest decision-making organ of ASEAN and the Chairman’s Statement is the official record of the meeting and is endorsed by all ASEAN heads of government.

• The Heart of Borneo is also a flagship programme of the five-year action plan of BIMP-EAGA. This plan is endorsed by the heads of government of all four countries.

For further information:
Stuart Chapman, International Coordinator
WWF Heart of Borneo Programme
Tel: +62 21 576 1070
Email: schapman@wwf.or.id  

Anshuman Atroley, Communications Manager
Tel: +91-9810169262
Email: aatroley@wwfindia.net
The "Heart of Borneo" is one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world. Sabah, Malaysia.
© © WWF / A. Christy WILLIAMS Enlarge


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