Logging of Borneo's rainforest

The home of the critically endangered orangutan is threatened by large-scale logging, as forests of Borneo are experiencing some of the most intensive logging extractions ever recorded. From 1985 to 2000 more wood was extracted from the island than from Africa and Amazon combined.


The home of Borneo´s orangutans comprise of some of the eldest and most biodiverse forests in the world, particular the unique lowland dipterocarp forest. This forest is the most bio-diverse of its kind (with more than 250 tree species) providing mast fruiting events (every two to 10 years) in correlation with El Nino, thereby allowing the orangutan to build-up vital storages of fat. The dipterocarp also serve as host tree for figs, the preferred everyday food of orangutans. However, the rich dipterocarp rainforest on Borneo is not only providing prime orangutan habitat, but is also one of the most valued timber reserves in the world, targeted by large scale logging companies.

A highly valued timber forest

Dipterocarpaceae is a family of trees, which dominates the forest areas on Borneo and constitutes more than 70% of canopy biomass in Southeast Asia. The Bornean dipterocarp family comprise of more than 250 species, and their characteristics have made them highly valued by the timber industry: As a dipterocarp tree grows, it develop a smooth, straight trunk without any side branches, and supported by its buttress roots it reaches heights of more than 50 meters. On average, it takes a dipterocarp tree 100 years to reach a canopy height of 30 m and a diameter of 60 cm (at chest height). The tallest member of the family constitutes the highest tropical tree ever recorded, Shorea faguetiana, reaching up to 89.5 meters above ground level (almost the height of Big Ben). Other high valued Bornean trees include the rare ”ironwood” (Eusideroxylon zwageri), which has a very durable and dense wood (no treatment needed), particular in demand for the construction of bridges, roof tiles and house pillars. 

Logging is destroying the rainforest

As much as 80% of the remaining rainforest areas on the Malaysian part of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) and 50% on the Indonesian part (Kalimantan) have been logged to various degrees. The logging industry in the Indonesian part of Borneo (Kalimantan) covers the greatest area of any industry, with logging concessions covering more than 9 millions Ha (an area greater than Portugal). However, around 70% of logging is done illegal, illustrating a forest resource exploited beyond the control of the concession holders and the local authorities. Even protection areas is threatened by logging, as 40% of all forest loss on Borneo between 2000 and 2012 happened in forest land restricted or prohibited from clearing.

How can you help?

Save the Orangutan is working to protect and restore Borneo’s rainforest. In 2013 a forest area of 309.000 ha, called Mawas, received status as protected due to Save the Orangutans' support. Mawas is home to more than 3.000 wild orangutans and we have started planting trees in some of the destroyed areas. Read more about how Save the Orangutan works to protect and replant the forest here >> 


Sustainable Forestry

Save the Orangutan works for a sustainable use of the forest which makes space for both animals and humans. Therefore, the organisation is a member of FSC Denmark. Read about our work to generate sustainable sources of income in the Mawas area here >>