MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing financial support of nearly $4.5 million to help conserve one of the world's most critical but threatened forest areas in the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo.
"The Heart of Borneo, covering about 22 million hectares, has some of the world's most important equatorial forests which act as 'lungs of the earth' but it is under threat from illegal logging and other harmful activities like poaching," said Pavit Ramachandran, Environment Specialist in ADB's Southeast Asia Department.
An estimated 12 million local and indigenous people depend on the Heart of Borneo. Each year, an estimated 1 million cubic meters of timber is smuggled out of the area, leaving destroyed forests, threatened biodiversity, lost livelihood opportunities, and higher costs for forest rehabilitation. Conflicting laws and ambiguity over areas of responsibility for managing resources has left the region highly vulnerable.
The project will provide support to strengthen policies and institutions for improved sustainable forest and biodiversity management, and it will help raise the capacity of government agencies to develop sustainable livelihood opportunities, with measures such as pilot schemes for local communities to be paid for ecosystem services.
The project performance targets by 2016 include a 2% decrease in forest loss (against a 2013 baseline); a 5% reduction in the incidence of wildlife poaching; the enactment of a draft national policy and reform agenda for forest resource management. The project will also undertake an in-depth study of supply chains related to mining, palm oil, rubber, and tourism, all of which are expanding and exacting an increasingly adverse toll on forest resources.
The technical assistance for the Government of Indonesia includes grants from the ADB's Climate Change Fund and the Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund. It also includes over $2.5 million from the Global Environment Facility, which ADB will administer. The project, which will be carried out by Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry is expected to run from September 2013 to August 2016.