The massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for the production palm oil together with the impact of climate change is driving to extinction the orangutan on Asia’s largest island, making it “clear that a future without sustainable development will be a future with a different climate and, eventually, without orangutans, one of our closest relatives,” a new United Nations report revealed today.
This, according to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who wrote the foreword of the report, The Future of the Bornean Orangutan: Impacts of Change in Land Cover and Climate, released today. And the report’s lead author Dr. Serge Wich declared: “The current policies for land conversion on Borneo are simply unsustainable” not just for orangutans but for the human population as well.
According to the report published by UNEP and Liverpool John Moores University in collaboration with the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), “the massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for agricultural development - primarily oil palm - will leave the endangered orangutans fragmented and facing extinction in a number of areas.”
“The environmental impact of climate change exacerbated by the deforestation of Borneo could result in severe floods, temperature rises, reduced agricultural productivity and other negative effects,” the report said.
While native to Indonesia and Malaysia, a century of deforestation, illegal logging, hunting and expansion of agro-industrial plantations, have combined to isolate orangutans to only the rainforests of Borneo – the world’s third largest island – and Sumatra, says UNEP.
Borneo’s deforestation rate has been among the world’s highest for over two decades and 56 per cent of the protected tropical lowland forests – an area roughly the size of Belgium – was lost between 1985 and 2001.
The report goes on to say that if deforestation in the Southeast Asia continues, a staggering 75 per cent of the original forest cover will be lost by 2030.
The Future of the Bornean Orangutan, according to a UNEP press release examines different climate and land-cover scenarios for the years 2020, 2050 and 2080 and models the individual and combined effect of both factors on the orangutan habitat.
In each scenario, “dramatic rises” in temperature brought on by deforestation and the loss of land cover cause serious damage to the island’s biodiversity, with the combined model showing an even more pronounced impact than either factor alone, the report said.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Orangutans face extinction on Borneo where deforestation is ‘simply unsustainable’ – UN.