Over 50% of the world’s species reside in the rainforest. It’s like a museum of life here on planet earth. Many of those species are native to the rainforest in which they live and can’t be found anywhere else. As recently as 2006, 52 new species of plants and animals where found on the island of Borneo (WWF 2006). There are most certainly plants and animals that have yet to be discovered. Tropical rainforests also contain peatland which holds large stores of carbon. Indonesia and Malaysia combined contain approximately 56% of all tropical peatland by area (Page et al, 2011a). Topical Peatland is the most efficient carbon sink on our planet. There are laws prohibiting the burning of peatland and forest, yet the practice continues as documented by satellite and eyewitness accounts. Peat can burn slowly, for long periods of time and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Combined carbon emissions due to fires in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, between the years of 2000 and 2006, averaged comparable amounts to the total volume of fossil fuel emissions in the region (van der Werf, et al. 2008). In a world where we hope to limit greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sinks should be protected.
What can be done?
An education campaign with youth of the region and plantation workers to ensure the value of this unique ecosystem is known and protected.