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On January 18, a major logging concession of 34,414 acres in Sabah, Borneo was overturned and the land permanently protected through its designation as a forest reserve. This vital habitat for Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutans and Sunda Pangolins is now incorporated into the Kuamut Forest Reserve, which safeguards the last vulnerable flank of the pristine forest of the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area.
Rainforest Trust in collaboration with Bornean partners the South‐East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), Sabah Foundation and Permian Global worked with the Sabah Forestry Department and State Government to permanently protect the 34,414-acre former logging concession through its designation as a Class I Forest Reserve.
“It was predicted that without intervention, 40 percent of the Kuamut forests would have been converted to sterile oil palm plantations by 2020,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “Killing the logging concession lease and making the area a forest reserve – which gives the same level of protection as a national park – expands Kuamut Forest Reserve to 206,039 acres, providing a crucial refuge for Borneo’s spectacular wildlife.”
The rainforests of Borneo, which date back more than 100 million years, are some of the earth’s oldest and most biodiverse, supporting thousands of endemic species. In total, 15,000 flowering plants species, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of birds are found in this incredible island. Critically Endangered species found in Sabah include the Sunda Pangolin, whose numbers have drastically decreased due to poaching for its meat and scales, as well as the Bornean Orangutan, whose status has recently been increased to Critically Endangered due to the destruction and fragmentation of its habitat.
Unfortunately, industrial logging has decimated Borneo’s forests and the rapid spread of palm oil plantations has contributed to the drastic decline in wildlife populations. Because of the efforts of Rainforest Trust, local partners and the Sabah government, the recent conversion of the logging concession to expand the Kuamut Forest Reserve annuls all logging plans and significantly improves protection for some of the island’s most threatened species.
Rainforest Trust and local partners are currently working to finalize this project by declaring an additional 81,767 acres to strengthen Kuamut Forest Reserve.
“The generous support of Rainforest Trust has enabled SEARRP to provide the science that underpinned the protection of this crucially important area of forest,” said Dr. Glen Reynolds, Director of SEARRP. “Having now extended our relationship with Rainforest Trust, we look forward to expanding these efforts and, with our partners in Sabah, contribute to the conservation of much larger areas of Sabah’s priceless rainforests.”
Rainforest Trust thanks all of its supporters that helped to make possible the expansion of Kuamut Forest Reserve, especially Daniel Maltz, Brett Byers and Leslie Santos, Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, and Charles Uihlein.