The Heart of Madness: Turning Borneo into a Huge Palm Oil Plantation

"I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky--seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."

~Joseph Conrad

But I guess he’d be turning over in his grave right now if he heard the latest news that there is talk of turning Indonesia’s part of Borneo (Kalimantan) into one great palm oil plantation:

The £4.2 billion plan proposed by a Chinese bank and backed by Jakarta politicians will clear 1.8 million hectares of forest in Kalimantan over the next six years to grow oil palms to feed the world’s growing appetite for margarine, ice-cream, biscuits and biodiesel fuel.

£4.2 billion!!!!!!!!!! That’s about 80 trillion rupiah!!!

One of the places to be cleared will be Betung Kerihun, one of the world’s last surviving ancient wildernesses.

Here’s how the UK Times describes it:

The forest is an almost untouched Eden. Orang-utans and gibbons live high in the canopy. On the forest floor clouded leopards and eight-metre pythons hunt wild boar and deer and are themselves hunted by one of the last truly nomadic forest peoples, the Penan.

It is also home to thousands of tree frogs, bats and orchids. More than 1,000 insects have been identified in a single tree. In one ten-year period 361 new plants, animals and insect species were discovered in Borneo.

And if you believe what the conservationists have to say, it’s not about the palm oil anyway. It’s about the trees:

“It’s a scam,” said Stuart Chapman, of the WWF conservation group. “Palm oil is a lowland equatorial crop and not suited to steep upland soils. There are two million hectares of idle land, already cleared of forest, in lowland Borneo which is suitable for planting. But putting this plantation in the island’s centre would give logging interests the excuse they need to cut down trees.”


Rainforest destructionKalimantan in 2030?


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