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State of Kalimantan’s biodiversity
Budiharta, S., Meijaard, E. in press. State of Kalimantan’s biodiversity. In: Resosudarmo B.P.,
Imansyah, M.H., Napitupulu, L. (Eds), Development, Environment and the People of Kalimantan.
Indonesian Regional Science Association (IRSA), Jakarta.
State of Kalimantan’s biodiversity
As one of the global biodiversity hotspots (Whitten et al., 2004) and the third-largest island in the
world, Borneo continues to be somewhat of an enigma in the conservation literature and practice.
Despite years of research, significant uncertainty remains about the relative contribution of different
threats to the species diversity of this Southeast Asian island (Corlett, 2007; Koh et al., 2010; Meijaard
et al., 2012). An example of this is the recent discussion in the Indonesian media about how much
forest is actually left on the island. In 2011, the Indonesian president made a commitment to maintain
at least 45% of the forests of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo (Presidential Regulation
3/2012 on Kalimantan Spatial Planning). Some environmental groups responded by saying that only
30% of Kalimantan actually remained covered in forests, and that this was therefore a meaningless
commitment (Satriastanti, 2012). On the other hand, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry reported that
54.9% of Kalimantan was still covered in forest (Ministry of Forestry, 2011). This figure is close to
an estimate in a recent peer-reviewed analysis that indicated that 54.4% of forest cover remained
(Gaveau et al., 2013; Gaveau et al., 2014). Some confusion may arise from the unclear definition of
what constitutes a forest (Sasaki and Putz, 2009), but more generally there appears to be a lack of
scientific and reliable data about how much forest remains, what its ecological status is and how it is
being used—for timber or non-timber production (production forest), biodiversity and ecosystem
conservation (conservation forest) or hydrological and soil protection (protection forest).
This lack of scientific understanding also extends to the species diversity of Borneo. Despite at least
two centuries of taxonomic research on the island, Borneo’s species and their conservation status
remain relatively poorly known. Many species records, both plant and animal, are based on just a few
observations. In Borneo, 15–35% of the flora may not have been collected (Beaman and Burley,
2003). Estimates suggest that our knowledge of some higher plant families is far from complete—
perhaps only 28% complete for the Fabaceae family of legumes in Southeast Asia, for example (Giam
et al., 2010). We are seldom sure whether a taxon is rare and localised or simply neglected (Abeli et
al., 2009; Cardoso et al., 2011). J.D. Holloway’s 18-volume work describing Borneo’s macro moths
is 70% complete; hundreds of new species have been identified so far and many more are likely to be
added. In short, we know neither exactly what species diversity exists on Borneo, nor how it is
affected by the wide range of threats, such as overharvesting and habitat loss. This makes effective
conservation planning difficult. Still, there are broader patterns of biodiversity that we can analyse,
and, if recognised early enough and incorporated into overall land-use planning, these biodiversity
values and associated forest ecosystem services can be protected and further contribute to the
wellbeing of the peoples of Borneo (Abram et al., 2014). Here we summarise the state of knowledge
about Borneo’s plant and animal biodiversity, the value of biodiversity to local livelihoods and threats
to its survival , and discuss some possible solutions to the ongoing biodiversity crisis.
There is no doubt that the island of Borneo is among the richest biodiversity regions in the world. In
the early twentieth century, Merrill (1921) estimated that Borneo had 9,000 vascular plant species,
and several decades later Ashton (1989) mentioned between 10,000 and 15,000 species. With
improved data, updated taxonomy and new methods, these numbers were updated in recent studies
by Roos et al. (2004), who estimated 14,423 plant species for Borneo. Based on a global comparative
analysis, Kier et al. (2005) concluded that Borneo ranked first in term of plant species richness among
terrestrial ecoregions, outperforming the well-known Amazonian plant hotspot of South America
(Mittermeier et al., 2005). The island’s exceptional richness is generated by an overall high level of
biodiversity on all scales, including site (alpha) diversity, habitat (beta) diversity and landscape
Not only does Borneo have outstanding biodiversity richness, but it is also recognised for its high
level of endemism, with 4,089 of its plant species, or some 28% of the total, found nowhere else
(Roos et al., 2004). Among 3,000 tree species on the island, 30% are considered endemic, while 40%
of Borneo’s 290 palm species are recorded there alone (MacKinnon et al., 1996; Soepadmo and
Wong, 1995; Wong, 1998). Borneo is also a centre for orchid richness and endemism with an
estimated 1,500–3,000 species, of which more than half are endemic (Chan et al., 1994; Lamb, 1991;
Wood and Cribb, 1994)
Among 109 families of tree in Borneo, the Dipterocarpaceae is the most prominent family, not just
because of its economic importance as the most widely harvested timber species, but also due to its
ecological dominance. Of the 386 described dipterocarp species in the world, 291 (75%) are recorded
from Borneo, with 156 being endemic (Soepadmo and Wong, 1995). In term of abundance, the
Dipterocarpaceae dominates tree composition, with 21% of inventoried trees belonging to this family,
followed by Euphorbiaceae (12.2%), Myrtaceae (5.2%), Sapotaceae (5.0%) and Lauraceae (4.6%)
(Slik et al. 2003). At the genus level, Shorea (meranti-merantian) stands out as the most common
genus, accounting for 12.3% of trees, followed by Syzygium (5.0%), Diospyros (3.4%), Madhuca
(3.2%) and Dipterocarpus (3.1%) (Slik et al., 2003).
Despite the overall high level of flora diversity in a regional context, the patterns of species richness
and endemicity in Borneo vary among landscapes. In general, the northeastern part of the island has
a larger number of plant species than the southwestern part. The higher biodiversity richness in the
northeast is probably driven by the mid-domain effect, meaning that diversity is concentrated in the
interior and mountainous areas of the island (Slik et al., 2003). There are some areas that have long
been regarded as centres of plant diversity, such as Mount Kinabalu and the Crocker Mountain Range
in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and the Meratus Mountains in southeast Borneo (MacKinnon et al.,
1996; Slik et al., 2003; Wong, 1998). Contemporary analysis using species distribution models of
herbarium records shows that the high mountain peaks of East Kalimantan also have a high level of
species richness (Raes et al., 2009). In addition, endemic plants are found in abundance in areas that
are biophysically distinct, in terms of altitude, edaphic condition or annual precipitation, for example.
This includes the Crocker Mountain Range, the northern parts of the Muller Mountains in central
Borneo, the lowland areas east of the Meratus Mountains and the eastern Sangkulirang Peninsula
(Raes et al., 2009).
In addition to the regional variation in diversity pointed out above, tree species diversity tends to vary
with altitude, with the lowland areas being especially rich in species. This is exemplified by the
lowland forests on the mineral soils of northeastern East Kalimantan, central West Kalimantan and
northern South Kalimantan, which are all areas of high tree species diversity. Unfortunately, in terms
of biodiversity conservation at least, these lowland areas are also important logging concession areas
(Slik et al., 2009), where unsustainable timber extraction and resulting forest loss has led to rapid loss
of species diversity (Paoli et al., 2010). Not all lowland areas harbour high levels of biodiversity. The
peat swamp forests of Central Kalimantan and the heath ecosystem of southern East Kalimantan
generally have low species diversity, not just for plants but also for a range of other species groups
(Paoli et al., 2010). Nevertheless, the species that are recorded in these areas are often unique and
found nowhere else, including Shorea venulosa, S. coriacea and S. materialis, which occur only in
heath forest, and S. albida, S. balangeran, S. macrantha, S. platycarpa and S. teysmanniana, which
are found in peat swamp forest (Raes et al., 2009; Soerianegara and Lemmens, 1994)
At the site scale, numerous floristic inventories have found that natural ecosystems in Borneo contain
extremely high level of alpha diversity. An example from a lowland forest near the Malinau River,
East Kalimantan, showed that as many as 759 trees with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of 10
centimetres or more (belonging to 205 species, 110 genera and 47 families) occurred within a 1-
hectare sample plot, making this site one of the richest in Indonesia (Sheil et al., 2010). Among them,
77 species were represented by only one individual, 43 species by two individuals, and 28 species by
three individuals. Miyamoto et al. (2003) surveyed trees with a dbh of at least 5 centimetres in a heath
forest in Kapuas, Central Kalimantan, and recorded 2,016 individuals per hectare belonging to 144
Borneo is the most species-rich island in western Indonesia in terms of its absolute vertebrate
diversity, although in relative terms (that is, number of species per square kilometre), it is not as rich
as the other islands (Table 11.1). Still, it is clear that regionally in Asia and Oceania, the Southeast
Asian tropics and particularly the Sundaic islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo stand out for their
species diversity, as exemplified by the diversity of mammal species (Figure 11.1). As with plants,
the actual number of animal species is under constant revision, and new species are added on a regular
basis. In 2012 alone, researchers described several new species and a new genus of tapeworm from
Borneo (Eyring et al., 2012; Schaeffner and Beveridge, 2012a, b, c), as well as four new species of
fish (Kottelat, 2012; Kottelat and Hui, 2011; Kottelat and Tan, 2012; Ng and Kottelat, 2012), a new
species of mud beetle (Fikacek, 2012) and a new species of frog (Hamidy et al., 2012). Several more
new frog species were described for Borneo in 2011 (Matsui, 2011; Shimada et al., 2011), a new
species of mammal in 2013 (Sargis et al., 2013) and a new subspecies of mammal in 2011 (Wilting
et al., 2011), and a new species of snake in 2008 (Das et al., 2008). Obviously, the data in Table 11.1
should therefore be considered an approximation, with all numbers likely to increase in the near future
(assuming the description of new species outpaces the rate at which species become extinct in the
Apart from obvious altitudinal and habitat limits on the distribution of animal species, there are
several different zoogeographical divisions on the island of Borneo (MacKinnon et al., 1996). They
appear to be determined mainly by geographical barriers such as rivers and mountains. For example,
the Barito River separates two species of gibbon (Hylobates albibarbis and H. muelleri), and in the
area east of the Barito and south of the Mahakam, there appear to be no orangutans (Pongo
pygmaeus). The northern part of the island stands out for its unique fauna, with many endemics being
restricted to the high mountains in that part of Borneo, although some of the north Bornean lowland
forests also harbour endemic animal species.
Table 11.1. Species counts for the main Indonesian islandsa
aExcludes introduced species.
Source: Kottelat et al. (1996); MacKinnon et al. (1996); Coates and Bishop (1997); Ahmad and
Khairul-Adha (2007); Froese and Pauly (2012)
Animal distribution patterns also appear to be influenced by past and present hunting, at least for
those species with financial, nutritional or other value to people, or species that are considered a
nuisance because of their impact on crops. Species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus
sumatrensis), banteng (Bos javanicus) and crocodiles (Crocodylus spp.) were still widespread in
Borneo in the 1930s (Nederlandsch-Indische Vereeniging tot Natuurbescherming, 1939), but
unsustainable hunting exacerbated by habitat loss and degradation has reduced the range of these
species to a fragment of their former size (Meijaard and Sozer, 1996; Rabinowitz, 1995; Timmins et
al., 2008). The influence of hunting in shaping species distributions has also been noted for
orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) (Meijaard et al., 2011; Meijaard et al., 2010) and other primates
(Nijman, 2004), and is likely to be a major factor in determining densities and patterns of absence or
presence for many Bornean animal species.
In conclusion, despite many years of scientific research, the fauna of Borneo remains relatively poorly
known, especially compared to better-studied tropical areas such as northeast Australia or the
Amazon. For only a handful of species are there relatively accurate descriptions of range and some
understanding of population trends and threats; these species include orangutans (Wich et al., 2012),
most primates (Meijaard and Nijman, 2003), some bat species (Struebig et al., 2010) and some of the
small carnivore species. For the remaining many thousand species, we rely on occasional specimens
from a few locations to make very rough estimates of their distribution. This lack of basic knowledge
makes it very different to strategically plan the conservation of Borneo’s many faunal species,
although maximising permanent forest cover is likely to maintain populations of most species.
Figure 11.1 Variation in mammalian species richness and endemism across the Indo-Malayan Region
(Boitani and Maiorano, unpublished data).
The value of biodiversity to local livelihoods
Local people in Kalimantan, especially those living in the interior of the island (often generally
referred to as Dayak), depend to a large extend on goods and ecosystem services provided by forests
(Abram et al., 2014; Meijaard et al., 2013). To fulfil their daily needs for food, fibre and fuel, they
have developed a range of lifestyles that depend more or less on forests, varying from a fully forest-
based hunter–gatherer lifestyle to semi-intensive agriculture such as shifting cultivation, agroforestry
and forest gardens. Many observers, however, from professional foresters to agriculturalists, consider
these systems to be rather primitive and unproductive ways of managing lands (Michon et al., 2005).
More recently, the green revolution has changed how farmers manage their lands, resulting in a shift
from semi-intensive multi-species systems to highly productive monocultures such as rubber and oil
palm plantations and timber estates for pulp production. Within the context of debating optimal land-
use strategies for Kalimantan’s people, we review the roles of biodiversity and conservation for local
One of the most important elements of biological diversity in Kalimantan is the use of a high variety
of medicinal forest plants. An interview-based survey of 1,837 reliable respondents in rural
Kalimantan showed that 34% of them used forests as an important source of traditional medicine,
with such uses increasing towards the island’s interior (Abram et al., 2014). Medicinal plants were
the fourth most commonly mentioned use of forests, after timber (67% of respondents), rattan (52%)
and hunting (45%) (Meijaard et al., 2013). Puri (2001) identified 56 plant species in northern East
Kalimantan (now North Kalimantan province) that were commonly used for medicinal purposes.
Other studies found over 250 medicinal plant species from 165 genera and 75 families that were used
by a local healer in West Kalimantan (Caniago and Stephen, 1998), and 203 species of plant that were
used by the Kenyah people of the Apo Kayan plateau, East Kalimantan (Leaman, 1996). Plants with
medicinal purposes are used to treat various ailments, ranging from common illnesses such as fever,
headaches and digestive problems to less common ones such as kidney disease and heart problems.
Some medicinal plants that are widely used include Gendarussa vulgaris (gandarusa) for the
treatment of kidney disease, Alstonia scholaris (pulai) for skin ailments, and Eurycoma longifolia
(pasak bumi) as an aphrodisiac and anti-malarial drug. Medicinal plants are mostly found in primary
and late successional forests, and some illnesses can be treated by specific plants occurring only in
these forest types, such as Mapania cuspidata (serapat), which is used to treat heart disorders.
Forest fruit, either grown in the wild or domesticated, is another commodity of significant importance
to communities, both to meet dietary needs and as a source of cash income. In a study conducted in
1991, Siregar (2006) documented at least 130 edible fruit species in Kalimantan, with 91 of them
occurring in agroforestry landscapes. The major groups of local fruit species were in the genus
Artocarpus with 15 species, Mangifera with 13 species, Garcinia and Baccaurea with 12 species
each, and Durio with seven species. Siregar mentioned that 45 of the edible fruit species were sold in
local markets, with some having high economic value. These included Artocarpus integer
(cempedak), A. heterophyllus (nangka), Mangifera indica (mangga), M. odorata (kuweni), Garcinia
mangostana (manggis), Baccaurea motleyana (menteng), Durio zibethinus (durian), D. kutejensis
(lai), D. oxleyanus (kerantungan), D. griffithii (lae), D. dulcis (lahung, red durian) and Lansium
Other sources of cash income generated from non-timber forest products (NTFPs) include rattan and
honey. Rattan is commonly gathered from wild clumps in secondary forests or harvested from
cultivated stems in forest gardens (simpukng). Some rattan species frequently collected for trade are
Calamus caesius (rotan sega), C. optimus (rotan taman), C. manan (rotan manau) and C. trachycoleus
(rotan jahap) (Meijaard et al., 2014). Several large trees are protected for their importance as habitat
of wild bees that produce honey. Called ‘tanyut’ (honey trees) by the Dayaks, these plants include
Koompassia malaccensis (kempas), K. excelsa (tualang), Shorea laevis (bengkirai) and
Dryobalanops lanceolata (kapur) (Mulyoutami et al., 2009). Some NTFPs are produced from
exudates, such as eaglewood (gaharu) yielded by Aquilaria spp, camphor (kapur) extracted from
Dryobalanops aromatica, gutta percha produced by Palaquium spp. and Payena leeri, and damar
resin extracted from Shorea spp. and Agathis spp. (Katz, 1997).
Many argue that traditional land-use systems such as agroforestry are low in direct economic value,
despite their potential benefit for biodiversity and the maintenance of land-use cultures. This could
be a debatable conclusion. For example, Saragih (2011) calculated the monetary value of forest for
forest-edge people in Paser, East Kalimantan, who generally implement a combination of swidden
rice farming, forest gardening, and hunting–gathering in forests. In this area, approximately 19,000
hectares of primary and secondary forest supported the livelihoods of 123 households with 577
inhabitants. Saragih found that the forest contributed almost $1,000 annually to household income,
with one-third of this income generated from NTFPs such as wild honey, rattan and fruits. With an
average GDP per capita (excluding income from oil and gas) in East Kalimantan of only $1,980 in
2011 (BPS, 2012), the income generated by NTFPs clearly made a significant contribution to the
livelihoods of rural people.
One could probably argue that the traditional ways of managing forests are not the best form of land
management, considering the low economic return. However, there are limited alternative livelihoods
for forest-edge people, owing to limited knowledge and lack of access to capital, so subsistence use
of forest is the only available option (Saragih, 2011). Also, this analysis calculates only the direct
value of forest and does not account for non-use values such as water regulation, flood prevention
and carbon retention.
Threats to biodiversity in Kalimantan
The Sundaland ecoregion, where Borneo island is located, has been identified as a biodiversity
hotspot because its rich and unique biodiversity is under a high level of threat from humans (Myers
et al., 2000). Sodhi et al. (2004) reviewed key threats to biodiversity in Southeast Asia, including
deforestation, forest fire, hunting for bushmeat, and wildlife trade. At a national scale, the major
threatening processes for Indonesian flora are habitat loss caused by logging and infrastructure
development, small population size, restricted range and overexploitation (Budiharta et al., 2011).
We evaluated threats to biodiversity in Kalimantan using data extracted from the Red List of
Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 2012).
We found 251 threatened species in Kalimantan, in the categories ‘least concern’, ‘near threatened’,
‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’, ‘critically endangered’ or ‘extinct in the wild’. Data on the threats or
threatening processes were available for 176 of those species (67 animals and 109 plants). Six broad
threatening processes were identified, namely habitat loss (including habitat degradation), over-
exploitation, pollution, restricted range, small population size and predation (Figure 11.2).
Figure 11.2 Processes that threaten endangered species in Kalimantan
Source: IUCN (2012).
Habitat loss was the major threatening process, affecting 82.1% of listed animal species and 60.5%
of listed plant species (Figure 11.1). Kalimantan lost 10 million hectares of forest cover between 1985
and 1997 (World Resources Institute, 2002) and 3 million hectares between 1996 and 2002, much of
it within protected areas (Fuller et al., 2004). Around 1.4 million hectares was cleared between 2000
and 2010 (Gaveau et al., 2013). Forest loss is especially deleterious because it occurs mostly in areas
known as centres of biological diversity and endemism, as mapped by Raes et al. (2009). While
logging was the key driver of habitat loss in the past, forest conversion to monoculture plantations
and mining areas now seems to be the primary cause of deforestation. Carlson et al. (2013) calculated
that between 1990 and 2010, approximately 90% of oil palm plantations in Kalimantan were
established in previously forested areas, with expansion rates exceeding 210% annually (equal to
232,800 hectares per year). If this trend continued, they predicted that by 2020 oil palm would occupy
almost one-third of Kalimantan’s lowland areas outside protected zones. The loss or reduction of
forest cover impacts severely on sensitive interior species such as Arctitis binturong (binturong),
Elephas maximus (Asian pygmy elephant), Pongo pygmaeus (orangutan) and Neofelis diardi (Sunda
clouded leopard) (Corlett, 2007; Meijaard et al., 2005; Meijaard et al., 2012)
Over-exploitation also contributed to biodiversity degradation in Kalimantan, threatening 55.2% of
animal and 24.8% of plant species. Animals are hunted for bushmeat, such as Ratufa affinis (cream-
coloured giant squirrel), Sus barbatus (bearded pig), Cervus unicolor (sambar deer), Pongo pygmaeus
(orangutan) and Chelonia mydas (green turtle); for their skins, including Pardofelis marmorata
(marbled cat) and Pardofelis badia (bay cat); for the pet trade, such as Hylobates muelleri (Bornean
gibbon) and Trichopodus leerii (pearl gourami); and for medicinal uses, such as Presbytis hosei (grey
leaf monkey) and P. frontata (white-faced langur), which are killed for the ‘bezoar stones’ in their
bladders. As mentioned, over-exploitation was also responsible for the local extinction of
Dicerorhinus sumatrensis (Sumatran rhinoceros) in Kalimantan over 40 years ago (Michon et al.,
2005), although the recent rediscovery of the species gives a glimmer of hope that it can still be saved
from extinction (Meijaard and Nijman, 2014). More recently, demand, primarily from mainland Asia,
for species such as Manis javanica (pangolin), Gekko gecko (the once common tokek) and a range of
hornbill species has decimated populations throughout Kalimantan. Similarly, overharvesting is the
primary threatening process facing highly commercial plants such as Aquilaria spp. (eaglewood),
Shorea spp. (meranti) and Dipterocarpus spp. (keruing). The increased demand for gaharu in the
1970s drove an ‘eaglewood rush’ in Kalimantan, leading to depleted populations by the 1990s, as
indicated by much longer collecting periods (up to a month) than in the past (just a week) (Katz,
1997). Such population shortages have driven up prices, leading to even more rampant collection
practices, especially by outsiders, who tend to ignore all sustainability standards.
The impact of pollution and predation is apparent only for a number of animal species, although it is
likely to affect plant life and other species as well. Pollution threatens fresh-water animals living in
Kalimantan’s major rivers, including Acrochordonichthys chamaeleon (lakut) and Pseudomystus
myersi (ikan pisang), which suffer from mercury poisoning caused by illegal gold mining in the
Kapuas River, and Chendol lubricus, which is affected by soil sedimentation and pesticides associated
with oil palm plantation development along the Mahakam River (Jenkins et al., 2009a, b, c).
Intrinsically biological factors cause two other threatening processes: restricted species range, which
affects 17.9% of animal and 32.1% of plant species; and small population size, affecting 1.5% of
animal and 8.3% of plant species. The relatively high proportion for restricted range is attributable to
the high level of endemism in Kalimantan. A well-known example of an endemic animal is Pongo
pygmaeus (orangutan), which is found only in Borneo. Crocodylus siamensis (Siamese crocodile),
recorded only in Mesangat Lake in the Mahakam River system, is threatened by its very small
population size, with only 30 individuals estimated to remain. Plant species threatened by a restricted
range include Mangifera casturi (kasturi), which is found only in cultivated areas in South
Kalimantan, some species of Nepenthes (pitcher plants/kantung semar), for example, N. boschiana,
N. clipeata, N. ephippiata, and endemic species of Knema spp. and Horsfieldia spp. We further note
that the threat posed by small population size in Kalimantan may be underestimated because
information is available only for a small number of species. The IUCN guidelines for population size
based on the number of mature individuals use an equation for which the following variables need to
be known: population density, range area and the proportion of individuals that are mature. Such
information is available only for a few species—for most, we simply have no idea of population size.
It is not a trivial task to integrate conservation into regional development, considering the contrasting
perspectives of proponents of economic growth and supporters of resource conservation.
Conservationists often view economic growth in developing countries as the primary driver of the
depletion of natural capital and ecosystem services, while many others view conservation as a
hindrance to development. The emerging concept of a green economy in which conservation takes
place in multi-functional landscapes provides the opportunity to harmonise these two points of view.
Underpinning this concept is the idea that new approaches to biodiversity are possible beyond the
strict protection of biodiversity in protected areas—that landscapes can be managed for productive
purposes while minimising the impact on biodiversity.
Certainly, a major strategy for biodiversity conservation should be to maintain areas identified as
centres of biological diversity and culturally important forests, and incorporate them into protected
area networks. Protected areas in Kalimantan now cover 11.1 million hectares (21% of the total land
area), in the form of conservation forest (nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks) and
protection forest (Ministry of Forestry, 2011). There is evidence, however, that some protected areas
(for example, Gunung Palung National Park and Kutai National Park) are not well managed, with
illegal logging and mining, land encroachment and forest fires reducing the effective area of
protection by more than half (Curran et al., 2004; Fuller et al., 2004). Other nature reserves and
wildlife reserves (such as Muara Kendawangan and Muara Kaman) are in even worse shape, with
very little natural forest cover remaining. In 2007, the three countries that share responsibility for the
island, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, signed a declaration launching Heart of Borneo,
an ambitious conservation program to protect and sustainably manage vast areas of intact, connected
forest in mountainous areas in the central part of Borneo. If it is to achieve its goals, this initiative
will need to address the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, learning from the
experience of continuing forest loss in many protected areas in lowland Kalimantan.
One way to sidestep the ineffectiveness of the protected area system and the high opportunity cost of
maintaining intact forest is conservation in multi-functional landscapes. Biodiversity conservation in
well-managed logging concessions and multi-species agroforestry are examples of such an approach.
Currently, 24.8 million hectares of land in Kalimantan (46.6% of the land area) is designated as
production forest, with 10.6 million hectares under active logging concessions (Gaveau et al., 2013).
This vast forest area could contribute significantly to the persistence of wildlife if managed properly
through reduced-impact logging, the retention of key species (for example, Ficus spp. (fig), fruit trees
and trees with hollows) and the setting aside and management of high conservation value forest
(Meijaard et al., 2005). Any regime for selective logging in production forest should also include the
preservation of forest corridors between protected areas (Proctor et al., 2011). A recent analysis
indicates that about 78% of the range of the Bornean orangutan falls outside protected areas, most
notably in logging concessions (29% of the range) (Wich et al., 2012). With most orangutans found
outside protected areas and only a minimal chance that much more habitat will be formally protected,
the inevitable conclusion is that the conservation of orangutans will have to take place not only in
protected areas, but also in forests that are used for other purposes (Meijaard et al., 2012).
Considering the high level of threat caused by overexploitation, another important strategy is to
control wildlife hunting and gathering. This does not necessarily mean banning the practices
altogether, but rather the careful management of populations of interest through improved harvesting
practices (for example, minimum allowable sizes) and regulated trade (Budiharta et al., 2011).
Although Government Regulation 8/1999 on Wild Flora and Fauna Exploitation is supposed to
regulate the use of wildlife, abuse of its provisions is widespread, as indicated by reports of a number
of cases of illegal trade in endangered fauna such as Buceros vigil (helmeted hornbill), Manis javanica
(Sunda pangolin) and Helarctos malayanus (Malayan sun bear) (Fachrizal and Pahlevi, 2013). A
range of measures is needed to increase the effectiveness of the relevant laws, including more
accountable government, more effective law enforcement and a strengthened judiciary, as well as
increased public awareness. To reduce the incentive to hunt wild animals for bushmeat, local
communities should be taught how to raise livestock, which would provide an alternative source of
animal-based protein. This would not only benefit biodiversity, but would also help to improve local
Prudent land-use planning occupies a key role in the integration of conservation and development
goals. There will always be trade-offs between the costs and benefits of particular land-use decisions;
allocating intact or lightly degraded forest to mining development inevitably affects biodiversity, for
example, and providing oil palm licences in areas that contain orangutans may trigger conflict
between the animals and plantation workers. The use of a science-based optimisation approach should
make it easier to maximise the benefits, and minimise the costs, of land-use decisions. For instance,
the allocation of logging concessions could be tied to measures to minimise the impact on biodiversity
(Wilson et al., 2010), and oil palm plantations and logging concessions could be developed in ways
that contribute to the conservation of forest carbon and minimise carbon emissions (Venter et al.,
2012). One prerequisite is to collate reliable and relevant data, especially in a spatial context, that can
be used to explore potential scenarios.
Well-managed forests, and even plantations in which some natural forest is retained, can provide
habitat for Kalimantan’s orangutans and other threatened species, although much more research is
needed to determine the exact factors that contribute to the survival of such species in multi-functional
landscapes. For such landscapes to provide viable habitat for biodiversity as well as people, a
significant shift in perspective is needed among conservation groups, governments, forest managers
and local communities. We need to stop seeing conservation in black-and-white terms of unprotected
versus protected areas, or natural versus unnatural landscapes. We need to acknowledge that the
future of Kalimantan’s wildlife depends on the survival of species in human-made landscapes, not
just in pristine habitats.
We thank two anonymous reviewers and Elizabeth Thomson for editing the manuscript. We also
acknowledge the inputs from Budy Resosudarmo, Lydia Napitupulu and Muhammad Handry
Imansyah. The book is initiated by Indonesian Regional Science Association (IRSA) with supports
from United States Agency for International Development (AusAid), Support for Economic Analysis
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