Borneo to lose 75,000 km2 of forest, 26,000 orangutans by 2032

27 Jul 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - The Indonesian/Malaysian island of Borneo will lose a further 75,000 square kilometres of forest, home to one in four orangutans, between 2018 and 2032 without new policies on deforestation, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The paper lays out previously estimated orangutan populations on the island - the world's fourth largest by area - with a new model that takes parameters such as elevation, distance to roads and rivers, human population density and official land-use designation into account.

Since the 1970s, the island has lost nearly one-third of its old-growth forest cover to farming, plantations, mining, infrastructural development and fires.

Forest loss is expected to be the greatest in Central Kalimantan as well as in the unprotected lowland and peat swamp forests of West, Central and East Kalimantan, where a lot of orangutans live, whereas areas of higher elevation in the central part of West and Central Kalimantan are likely to remain better protected.

"By identifying the orangutan population units most vulnerable to potential future deforestation, our approach can be used to guide pre-emptive conservation efforts and serve as baseline against which certain policy interventions can be tested," say the scientists behind the study.

"The approach could be equally as valid for other species and regions where wildlife information and deforestation trends are well documented."

The model used for the study uses historical deforestation data from 2001 to 2012, is calibrated on the years 2013 to 2017, and assumes no further policy intervention by local and national authorities.

It finds that, without intervention, Central Kalimantan on the Indonesian side will lose a further 29% of forest cover over the next decade, followed by West Kalimantan (-24%) and the Malaysian province of Sarawak, with -24%.

Katingan and Rimba Raya, two of the largest avoided deforestation projects in the world, are both situated in Central Kalimantan.

The Rimba Raya project is designed to protect the integrity of the adjacent Tanjung Puting National Park – home to 6,000 orangutans – by creating a physical buffer zone on the full extent of the 90km eastern border of the park.

Vintage 2016 Rimba Raya credits are trading for around $9/tCO2e in the over the counter markets, with more recent vintages closer to $13-14, Quantum data shows.