Jakarta Post, 20 May: In the remote interior of Kalimantan a vast coal mining venture looks set to go ahead in an internationally agreed conservation zone. The project could see more than a billion tonnes of coal dug up from an area of global significance, where indigenous people have lived for generations from the forests and rivers.
“We heard on the news that Kalimantan was the heart of the world, but we never heard about our village being part of the ‘Heart of Borneo’,” Maruwai village secretary Timor Banafi says, laughing.
Maruwai, a settlement of around 700 people in the remote north of Central Kalimantan, sits near the border of the Heart of Borneo, a more-than-220,000-square-kilometer zone which Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia in 2007 agreed to protect from the deforestation and degradation associated with industrial agriculture, logging and mining.
The Asian Development Bank has said the Heart of Borneo contains “some of the world’s most important equatorial forests which act as ‘lungs of the earth’,” describing it as “one of the few areas on earth where large-scale conservation can still be implemented”.