Travel update from Borneo


During the next two weeks Marie and Johanna from Save the Orangutan will post updates directly from Borneo on Facebook. They are in Borneo to investigate the possibilities of a project aimed at supporting the original population of eastern Borneo and they will post updates about their work, experiences and adventures on the world’s third largest island.

Save the Orangutan is, with the support of the Danish developmentorganization Civilsamfund i udvikling (CISU), investigating the possibilities of a project to help the original population in eastern Borneo, the Dayaks, find new sustainable livelihoods as their current livelihoods are disappearing as the forests are being cleared.

The Bornean rainforest is disappearing

App. 20% of the 250 million Indonesians regard themselves as natives and out of these some 30 million are depending on the rainforests to survive, so the alarming rate with which the rainforest is disappearing is catastrophic.

App. 35% of the eastern Borneo rainforest has disappeared since 1950 equal to an area 1½ times Denmark. The people who originally lived in harmony with the rainforests and were depending on it to survive now experience that they cannot maintain their traditional living style.

Why is the rainforest disappearing?

There are several reasons for the disappearing of the Bornean rainforest. One of the main drivers behind it is that the soil the forests grow on is valuable. During the last couple of decades oil, gas and palm oil industries have grown tremendously and these industries need access to soil that so far has been covered by forest. This is the reason for the many arsons in the rainforest areas as it is an extremely efficient way of clearing the forests for subsequent growing of crops or extracting minerals.

On eastern Borneo alone there were 5.5 million hectare oil palm plantations in 2009 (for comparison Denmark covers 4.3 million hectare). On top of this plans are made to extend the oil palm area by a further 6.1 million hectare before 2020.

Why is the project focusing on the indigenous people?

In eastern Borneo 260,000 people are living below the poverty line of 12.5 British pound a month and the majority are Dayaks. When the forests are cleared they lose their livelihood and they are rarely included – or compensated – when decisions affecting them are made. When the woods are cleared they find themselves forced to take on jobs in oil palm plantations or the mining industry, or, even worse, to start deforestation themselves to be able to put food on the table.

What is the purpose of the project?

The project focuses on 3 dayak villages in the eastern part of Borneo. These villages are surrounded by oil palm plantations and mining industries that pollute and destroy the remaining wild nature and thus the livelihood of the Dayaks.

This is why Save the Orangutan will, supported by CISU, look at the possibilities of including the Dayaks in the decision making processes and create sustainable sources of income through capacity building and marketing of local sustainable products.

Read more about how we support the local societies >>