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A very integral regeneration project: global regeneration, touching & deeply inspiring, a great example of humanity, great ecological economics.
By piecing together a complex ecological puzzle, biologist Willie Smits has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, saving local orangutans -- and creating a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems, by respecting the local culture & generating a more sustainable local economy to involve all sections of society.
Willie Smits is a trained forester, a microbiologist, conservationist, animal rights activist and social entrepreneur.
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Borneo (Indonesian: Kalimantan) is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia.
The Borneo rainforest is 130 million years old, making it the oldest rainforest in the world.
There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo.
It is the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals.
The Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean Orangutan.
It is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including theAsian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Bornean Clouded Leopard, the Hose's Civet and the Dayak Fruit Bat. The World Wide Fund for Nature has stated that 361 animal and plant species have been discovered in Borneo since 1996.
The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area shrank due to heavy logging for the Malaysian plywood industry. Half of the annual global tropical timber acquisition comes from Borneo. Furthermore, Palm oil plantations are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest.
The rainforest was also greatly destroyed from the forest fires of 1997 to 1998, which were started by the locals to clear the forests for crops and perpetuated by an exceptionally dry El Niño season during that period.
During the great fire, hotspots could be seen on satellite images and the haze thus created affected the surrounding countries of Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. In February 2008, the Malaysian government announced the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy plan to harvest the virgin hinterlands of Northern Borneo.
Further deforestation and destruction of the biodiversity are anticipated in the wake of logging commissions, hydroelectric dams and other mining of minerals and resources.
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