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The Borneo Rainforest

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    The tropical rainforest is earth’s most complex biome in terms of both structure and species diversity. Tropical Rainforests can be found in South and Central America, Africa, Oceania (the islands around Australia), and Asia (15). Tropical rainforests cover only about 7% of the Earth’s surface (13, )All Tropical Rainforests have similar characteristics including climate, precipitation, etc. They are located in a band around the equator. However, not every tropical rainforest can claim exact characteristics when compared by region.

    Many may blend with adjoining mangrove forests, moist forests, mountain forests, or tropical deciduous forests (13). Sunlight is a major limiting factor. A variety of strategies have been successful in the struggle to reach light or to adapt to the low intensity of light beneath the canopy (14). The seasons do not change in the Tropical Rainforest; it’s always hot and wet. The average temperature year-round is about 80 degrees, and its precipitation is about 100 to 400 inches a year (13).

    The heat and moisture in the rainforest cause plants and animals to rot quickly once they have died. When these organisms decay, all the rich nutrients are recycled back into the soil to feed the roots of other plants (15). The Soil is infertile, deeply weathered and severely leached. Rapid bacterial decay prevents the accumulation of humus (13). The concentration of iron and aluminum oxides gives the soil a bright red color and sometimes produces mineral deposits (15). The Vegetation in the Tropical Rainforest is very diverse as well as the different animal species.

    There’s Lianas which are woody vines grow rapidly up the tree trunks (15). There are also the Epiphytes which are the so-called air plants that grow on branches high in the trees, using the limbs merely for support and extracting moisture from the air and trapping the constant leaf-fall and wind-blown dust (14). Animal life is highly diverse, common things are found among mammals and birds (and reptiles and amphibians, too) include adaptations to an arboreal life, bright colors and sharp patterns, loud vocalizations, and diets heavy on fruits (13).

    The island of Borneo started as a single volcano beneath the sea. Millions of years ago, it erupted. Over time, smaller eruptions and earthquakes joined land together to form an island. Today, Borneo is the third largest island in the world (18). Three countries share the island: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei; and over 16 million people live on Borneo (16). The percentage of how much of the island is rainforest area is 50 percent (220,000 square kilometers).

    The Borneo lowland rain forests cover most of the island, other lowland eco-regions are the Borneo peat swamp forests, heath forests, the Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests, and the Sunda Shelf mangroves (16). The Borneo mountain rain forests lie in the central highlands of the island, above the 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) elevation. The highest elevations of Mount Kinabalu are home to the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadow, an alpine shrub land notable for its numerous endemic species, including many orchids (17).

    There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of birds (16). The World Wildlife Fund has stated that 361 animal and plant species have been discovered in Borneo since 1996, underscoring its unparalleled biodiversity it is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals (18). The Rhinoceros Hornbills are large birds found throughout Borneo.

    To find food, they fly between fruiting trees occasionally stopping to grab small animals, like squirrels. The male birds have an orange or red ring around their eyes, while the ring remains white in female (11). They use their beaks to perform variety of jobs such as harvesting food, building the nest, sealing the nest, and feeding the chicks. On top of the beak is a casqued, a hollow helmet-like structure, which helps to amplify their calls (10). Usually, they call only when they defend their territories from other breeding pairs (12).

    Hornbills are critical to the dispersal of the figs because they eat the entire fruit, including the seed, and then fly long distances dispersing the seeds widely (11). They spend their entire lives on treetops. To nest, however they look for old or dead trees with cavity. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she uses food and droppings to seal the entrance (10). The female incubates the egg in the cavity for the next 50 days. She keeps the nest clean by throwing out uneaten food and the poop. The male bird brings food for the female and chicks (11).

    Three months or 100 days after the chicks hatch, the female bird breaks out of the nest. The chicks then rebuild the covering and receive food from their parents for the next three months (12). When the chicks grow; they break the nesting hole and fly free. The Rafflesia flower is one of the rarest and most astonishing flowers in the world, including the very largest, is found only in Borneo and Sumatra. It weighs up to 10kg (4). The Rafflesia flower starts as a small bud and can take over a year to flower.

    Rafflesia plants are parasitic, lacking both leaves and roots; it drains nourishment and gains physical support from its host vine (4). Its only body outside the flower consists of strands of fungus-like tissue that grow inside the Tetrastigma vine. The flower is not designed for beauty. In fact, the five fleshy, petal like lobes, marbled red and white resemble dead meat and through chemical reaction the flower generates a strong odor of rotting flesh (5). The odor attracts carrion-scavenging flies and beetles into the plant to pollinate it (6).

    But the full-grown flower lasts only about a week before it turns brown and rots (4); so it’s very rare and difficult to find these flowers. The buds and flowers have a high content of tannin and phenols which can be toxic when taken in large quantities. The flower is used by humans to help women to stop internal bleeding and shrink the womb after childbirth, and men use it as an energy drink (5). One of the world’s smallest frogs was discovered in Borneo. The pea-sized amphibian was found living in the distinctive flask-shaped pitcher-plant near a mountain (7).

    The frog measures just three millimeters as a tadpole and grows to about nine to 11 millimeters as an adult (8). The pitcher plants are carnivorous, killing insects such as ants, to supply nutrients otherwise not available in the resource-poor and acidic soils on which they typically grow; but they do not harm the frogs (9). The Nepenthes ampullaria plants instead subsist off decomposing organic matter that collects in its pitcher (8). The frog deposit its eggs on the sides of the pitcher and when these hatch, the tadpoles grow in the liquid accumulated in the plant’s insect-trapping cavity.

    The toad was last seen in the 1950s and is believed to be a victim of increased stream sedimentation wrought by logging. Borneo is an important piece of land because it has many natural resources including timber, natural gas, and oil (petroleum) (2). It is found throughout the island but the largest deposits are in Brunei. It’s not only important because of its natural resources but also because is home to endangered animals as orangutans, forest elephants and rhinos (1). Borneo’s tropical rainforest has some of the richest biodiversity on Earth.

    It also has some of the world’s strangest creatures, like flying lizards and frogs. New creatures are still being discovered (2). There are many situations that represent an environmental threat for the Borneo Rainforest. One of them would be forest fires that have become a danger to the wildlife, and people of the island. Most of these fires are the result of logging (for land-clearing purposes) and lightning storms (2). Because Borneo is still very wild, once fires start they are very difficult to control.

    Deforestation in Borneo was historically low due to infertile soils (relative to surrounding islands), unfavorable climate, and the presence of disease (1). Deforestation began in earnest during the mid-twentieth century with the establishment of rubber plantations, though these had a limited impact (3). Industrial logging rose in the 1970s as Malaysia depleted its peninsular forests, it expanded significantly in the 1980s, with logging roads providing access to remote lands for settlers and developers (2).

    Logging in Borneo in the 1980s and 1990s was some of the most intensive the world has ever seen, with 60-240 cubic meters of wood being harvested per hectare (1). Many specifies of animals are struggling to survive like the Rhinoceros Hornbills where they live up in the trees, and because of the logging they are suffering great damages for their population, reproduction and lifestyle. At the same time that logging became increasingly scarce, interest in oil palm plantations began to spread in Borneo (3).

    In Malaysia, today the world’s largest producer of palm oil, oil palm plantations grew from 60,000 hectares in 1960 to more than 3 million hectares in 2001. Today almost half of Malaysia’s cultivated land consists of oil palm (2). According to the state government, about two-thirds of Sarawak’s 8. 22 million hectares are covered with natural forest (1). The government says it seeks to protect about 8 percent of the state’s natural forests with the rest of the land, in equal parts, devoted to commercial forest and agriculture (2).

    In recent years Borneo’s remaining forests had been cleared for oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), some 361 species of animals have been discovered on the island in the past decade. Indonesia, in partnership with the other governments that share the island of Borneo, made the announcement to protect the “Heart of Borneo” at the Convention on Biological Diversity, to control the usage of the resources in the island and try to preserve what’s left of the rainforest (1).

    They were planning on re-plantation of trees in certain areas to help the expansion of the forest and its wildlife (2). Forests are a very big part of the Earth’s environmental balance, and without it the world would be shaped differently. It’s the main sources of oxygen, they are also a precious resource so we should not do deforestation instead we should grow plants. It also serves as a shelter for different animals, birds and other micro-organisms.

    Furthermore they help stabilize the world’s climate, they protect against flood, drought, and erosion, they are also a source for medicines and foods, etc. We cannot be sustainable without rainforests because they provide out daily survival supplies. That’s why if we let disforestation grow, and nothing about it is done, we may run into some trouble because out resources would be scarce, the climates will change, species will die (including the human specie), etc. The dramatic changes in the Borneo Rainforest it’s a perfect example of what will happen if we don’t try to save the rainforest.

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    The Borneo Rainforest. (2017, Mar 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-borneo-rainforest/

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