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The forests of Southeast Asia are rapidly dwindling, yet contain some of the highest biodiversity in the world. Characterized by Diptocarp forests (subtropical and tropical broadleaf forests) and unusual dry and rainy seasons, these forests are under heavy pressure from the agriculture used by growing populations and palm oil and timber interests.
The island of Borneo was almost completely covered with dense rainforest until logging began a few decades ago. As with most rainforests, the land underneath is not very good for agriculture, usually yielding good crops for only a very few years.
This ecoregion is among the richest in the world for floral diversity, exhibiting many mountain plant species, including many species of orchids and rhododendrons not found elsewhere.
The region is also home to some wonderful and highly endangered animals, such as hornbills (Sarawak is called "land of the hornbill"), Sumatran rhinos, and primates such as proboscis monkeys, tarsiers, and orangutans.
Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), peaceful tree-dwellers, are truly fascinating and sympathetic creatures. "Orangutan" comes from the Malay words 'orang' ('man') and 'utan' ('forest'). The remaining wild orangutans live only on the islands of Borneo and neighboring Sumatra, though they once ranged throughout southeast asia and even into southern China. Mother Orangutans have only one offspring at a time, nurturing and teaching it for up to eight years before having another baby. The Orangutan Foundation International web site (www.orangutan.org) contains much more information about Orangutans, their lives, and the huge challenges facing them. You can also learn about Tanjung Puting National Park, near where our rattan is produced, on their site.
More information about Borneo is available at EarthIsland.org, which includes a separate page on shopping intelligently to protect Borneo's rainforest.
We import our Borneo products from Dian Niaga Eco-Traders. Dian Niaga (dee-AHN nee-AH-gah) is a non-profit organization based in the state of Kalimantan, which is the Indonesian, southern part of the island of Borneo. They invest in biodiversity conservation and in assisting local communities, and are the marketing end of a participatory community forest project.
This project is developing a variety of small-scale enterprises, all using forest products other than timber. Sales support Dian Niaga and their efforts to nurture artistic traditions, provide employment, and promote conservation.
The rattan products we sell are made from sustainably harvested rattan palm fiber. Rattan is a palm that only grows in natural forests, but within the forest it can be easily replanted.
Here are some pictures of rattan as it is processed: