THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BARAM PEACE PARK
A Rainforest Under Threat
Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, has witnessed a profound history of deforestation, which has left a dual impact, both locally and globally. The export of tropical timber has been a major part of Sarawak’s economy for more than 5 decades and more than 90% of its 135 million-year-old rainforest has been lost forever. The most recent records show that over 6.5 million hectares of forest in Sarawak are under licensed concession to timber companies – more than half of Sarawak’s entire land area.
The relentless expansion of agricultural activities, logging, and infrastructure development has significantly altered the tropical landscape. Vast tracts of lush rainforests have been sacrificed for palm oil plantations, timber extraction, and urban growth, giving rise to significant environmental consequences. The primary forest remains under threat from the commercial sector on multiple fronts – from the removal of trees by continuous timber extraction and environmental contamination from commercial agriculture.
Less than 10% of Sarawak's primary rainforest remains intact.
At the local level, deforestation in Sarawak has resulted in the loss of vital ecosystems and biodiversity. These rainforests are home to countless plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The destruction of their habitats has led to the decline and extinction of several of these species, compromising the extraordinary biodiversity that once thrived here. Moreover, logging has contributed strongly to the disruption of local communities, especially the Indigenous peoples who have relied on these forests for their physical and cultural survival.
On a global scale, the implications of deforestation in Sarawak reach far beyond its borders. These rainforests play a critical role in climate regulation, acting as essential carbon sinks. The destruction of these forests contributes to increased carbon emissions, accelerating climate change. As we grapple with the urgent need to combat global warming, the conservation of Sarawak's remaining rainforests takes on even greater significance. By preserving these ecosystems, we not only safeguard the local environment and culture but also make strides toward mitigating the broader impacts of climate change and preserving our shared global future.
Indigenous Peoples are the World's Best Forest Guardians.