A Success Story of Sustainability in Borneo
Despite the ongoing negative press this week I’m highlighting a success story of sustainability in Borneo.
Hurrah for rattan! A positive story of sustainability in Borneo at last.
We hear a lot of bad press about environmental damage as a result of the growing industry, so it is more important than ever for us to look at success stories. IKEA has partnered with WWF to gain sustainability certification for a group of 200 farmers in Borneo by the Forest Stewardship Council, which will greatly improve conservation efforts in the region and directly benefit a number of the Eco Projects that we support.
What is rattan?
Rattan is a vine like palm native to the Borneo region that is used in furniture and handicrafts. It needs trees to grow which is a strong incentive for local communities to protect and regrow forests on their land.
What are the sustainability issues?
Unfortunately rattan harvesters aren’t paid much so they are turning to less sustainable but more profitable alternatives like bananas, vegetables or rubber production. Many are also selling their land to palm oil companies or starting illegal gold mining as an economic boost. This is a way for communities to make quick cash at the expense of their surrounding environment and hampers sustainability in Borneo.
What difference will a Forest Stewardship Council Certification make?
WWF research has found that small producers in tropical countries are able to earn more with certification than they would without certification. These smallholders are now in a stronger position to command higher prices from buyers in high-value markets.
This agreement is a milestone achievement in Indonesia as it is the first time that a non-timber forest product has received this level of certification.
IKEA has been a partner in this project since its inception in 2011 and from 2018 they will require all of their suppliers to meet this forestry standard. At the moment they use rattan in over 100 different products and hopefully this will increase in the future.
Flow on effects for endangered species
The flow on effect from this agreement is enormous. As more farmers grow rattan, they will also plant more trees and protect the forest. The old-growth forest in this area is home to orangutans, primates and endemic birds so the preservation of these trees is vital.
This is just one important project that will help improve the survival rates of orangutans in the region. The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation is also working hard to restore rainforests in their sanctuaries. Volunteers can work with the organization to help preserve the forests, conduct research and rehabilitate injured or rescued animals.
Get involved with orangutans in Borneo on our Orangutan Volunteer Project
So next time you are shopping for new furniture, make sure you are supporting the sustainable rattan industry!