Borneo and Sumatra: priceless forests harbor untold species

The 3rd of the forest series – Borneo & Sumatra.


The Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra are home to some of the richest and most diverse tropical forests on the planet. They house thousands of unique species and the world’s last remaining Sumatran tigers, orangutans, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinos. These forests also absorb harmful carbon emissions and are sources of fresh water for the islands’ 56 million people.

In Borneo and Sumatra, commercial logging and conversion to agriculture are doing swift and irreversible damage. Sumatra’s forests have been very nearly wiped out, and the few that remain are under severe pressure. Borneo’s unique tropical forests are in danger of disappearing forever unless urgent action is taken.

Conserving Borneo and Sumatra requires not only work on the ground with local communities and governments, but global action to address the relentless forces that are destroying the last strongholds of tigers, orangutans and countless other species – many still undiscovered. To succeed, WWF works hand in hand with local people – empowering them to manage their natural resources to the greatest benefit of current and future generations.

The place. Located on the Equator, the islands harbor some of the world’s most diverse rain forests and Southeast Asia’s last intact forests. Borneo is the world’s third largest island, covering an area slightly larger than Texas. Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island. The islands’ tropical climate and diverse ecoregions have created habitats for an array of life.

The species. This is the only place where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together. It is home to lesser-known marvels—like the proboscis monkey, sun bear, clouded leopard, and flying fox bat. There are more than 15,000 known plants here, with many more species yet to be discovered—since 1995, more than 400 new species have been identified.

The people. The cultural diversity of Borneo and Sumatra is as distinct and varied as its plant life. The region’s 56 million people are a mix of indigenous peoples and immigrants from mainland Indonesia and other Asian countries. The rapid economic changes under way are a challenge to the traditional ways of life for communities that have lived off the forests for generations.

This content appeared originally on the WWF website.
Image Courtesy: WWF



Category: Forests

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