Borneo Threatened by Green Gold Rush

New ideas on conservation needed with island's biodiversity under attack
By Michael Roston,  Newser User
Posted Oct 27, 2008 1:16 PM CDT
A group of Pygmy elephants cross a road in Taliwas forest in Malaysian Borneo in this 2005 file photo.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Borneo, the Texas-sized island whose rain forests are astonishingly rich in biodiversity, has been plundered for its other riches—everything from rhino horns to coal to oil—for centuries. Now, with the market for palm oil, dubbed green gold, booming, oil-palm plantations threaten the remaining forest, Mel White writes in National Geographic. "Borneo's future may well be the most critical conservation issue on our planet," he writes.

But protecting plant and animal life will be impossible without fighting extreme poverty and widespread corruption. And it will require "rethinking old ideas, accepting new truths, and adopting new models of conservation.” Even logging, for instance, is better than palm-oil plantations: "You can log forests and still save that biodiversity. But the thing you can't do is convert the whole thing to monoculture plantations. Then you lose everything. It's a biological desert."