When I first came to Malaysia, Borneo was forested from coast to coast. Now much of it is eroded wasteland, self-seeded with those rampant weeds, Australian acacias. It seems incredible that we have swapped the unique biodiversity granted us for imported rubbish!
And has Borneo benefitted from all that cutting down of forest? Not nearly as much as it should have. Spend a week with a boatman on the rivers of the Lower Kinabatangan and find out. The average family income is 250 MYR. That’s about $USD 70. A month. Plus all the fish they can eat.
Most of the logged forest – perhaps more than 90% of the biomass, was burned or otherwise wasted in the grabbing of the commercial timber. We gave up clean water and clean air and pristine oceans for that. I guess the timber taukehs and others who grabbed their cut think it was a good deal.
I think it was a short-sighted waste of one of the world’s most valuable resources that could have benefitted the population for untold generations. Instead it made a handful rich in one generation and left behind a wasteland suitable only for monoculture –with no thought given to protecting water resources, connectivity of habitat, wildlife, medicinal plants, or in fact any kind of overall planning. Sure, oil palm plantations have there place. But this wasn’t the way to do it. We squandered the future of our children.
been so wantonly destroyed
in so short a time
for the benefit
of so few.