Heart of Borneo Initiative (HoB)Heart of Borneo Initiative (HoB)


What is Heart of Borneo?

The Heart of Borneo (HoB) Initiatives is a voluntary transboundary cooperation between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam to conserve and manage the tropical forests, totaling some 22 million hectares, across the borders of the three countries on the island of Borneo in the Malaysia states of Sarawak and Sabah.

The HoB initiative was officially launched in Brazil on 27 March 2006. On 12 February 2007 the Minister of natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia; the Ministry of Forestry, Republic of Indonesia and the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam signed a jointly issued a Declaration in Bali, Indonesia.

Basically, the HoB Initiatives is a framework for technical cooperation between the three countries and long-term objectives is highlighted in the Bali Declaration as such:

“With one conservation vision and with a view to promote peoples’ welfare, we will cooperate in ensuring the effective management of forest resources and conservation of a network of protected areas, productive forests and other sustainable uses.”

Other than the main conservation and management efforts, the HoB Initiative also hopes to improve the lives and livelihoods of the communities living in the designated area through cooperation and coordinated programmes of action between the three countries.

The main pillars and key elements of Hob Initiative from the Bali Declaration are people’s welfare, biodiversity conservation and protection of environmental values.

Objectives of HoB Initiatives:

To conserve the last expanse of contiguous forest in Borneo to:-

  1. Maximize Transboundary Linkages
  2. Promote Expansion of Protected Area Networks
  3. Maintain Forest Connectivity
  4. Ensure Sustainable Land Use Practices


The Sarawak sector of the initiatives is sited along its border with Indonesian Kalimantan, Brunei Darussalam and Sabah stretching from Batang Ai in the south-west to Merapok in the north-east (Lawas District). It cover an area 2.1 million ha or some 16.4% Sarawak land’s area including the interior parts of six Divisions, namely Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Kapit, Miri and Limbang.


Therefore, for these ease of description and reference, the Sarawak sector of HoB Initiative is divided into three regions, namely

  • Northern Region – encompassing the  Miri and Limbang Division;
  • Centarl Region – encompassing the Kapit and Belaga District of the Kapit Division;
  • Southern Region – Covering Sri Aman, Sarekei, and sibu Division as well as the Song District of the kapit Division.

There are five reference of the scope of the studies conducted:

i.      Agriculture

The importance and contributions of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product of the country is indisputable and it has always been featured prominently in the development plans. Agriculture is also the main livelihood for most people in the rural areas. Agriculture is rural areas consists mainly of smallholder farms, which is usually a variation of mixed farming systems of a variety of crops (mainly food crops), livestock rearing and freshwater fish culture in fishponds. Other than Bario and Ba’kelalan, agriculture development within the HoB area is limited due to mountainous terrain and inaccessibility.

ii.      Forest Resources

Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, has a land area of 12.4 million ha currently; an estimated 65% of the land is still occupied by forest. The natural forest cover has been reduced over the past fifty years due to human activities such as shifting cultivation, commercial logging, excisions, agriculture and other land uses.

For sustainable forest management (SFM), the Sarawak Government has set aside six million ha of production forest as Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) for sustainable timber production and another million ha as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) comprising of national park, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves.

In the HoB area, out of 2.1 million ha of forested land, about 1.6 million ha are occupied by 15 PFE. TPAs occupy about 526,652 ha while the rest are agriculture plantations, native customary rights (NCR) land and alienated land. 

iii.      Biodiversity

The island of Borneo covers more than 200 million hectares of rainforest and is home to 10 primate species, over 350 birds’ species including eight hornbill species, more than 150 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 15,000 species of plants, according to WWF. In particular, the forests of heart of Borneo are some of the most biologically diverse in the world with a high number of endemic species.

Borneo is also one of the only two places on earth where the orang-utan, Asian elephant and Sumatran rhinoceros still co-exist and where forests are large enough to maintain viable populations of these iconic mammals. Many of the important existing conservation areas within the HoB area found in Sarawak, including the Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Gunung Mulu National Park, Pulong Tau, Batang Ai National Park and several proposed TPAs like Danum Linau National Park and Ulu Balleh N.P.

The conservation management and protection of biodiversity is the overall responsibility of the Sarawak Forest Department and assisted by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

The Convention on International Trade Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) is also implemented as well as the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), World Heritage Site, the RAMSAR Convention and other relevant international, regional and bilateral agreements.

iv.      Local Communities

One of the objectives of the HoB is to promote the welfare of the people through effective management of a network of protected areas, production forests and agriculture. Socioeconomic studies are necessary as the local communities have been dependent on the forests and other resources for their livelihood for generations. Numerous settlements are located within the timber production forests but outside totally protected areas like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

To better understand how the HoB may help people‘s welfare as well as their roles in the project, information and data on demographics, their lives and livelihood, problems, aspirations and needs, and attitudes towards conservation must be gathered to facilitate planning and project identification. It will also ensure the development proposals will be environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially and culturally acceptable.

















Punan Vuhang








Lun Bawang













v.      Ecotourism

Ecotourism, defined as environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation with socio-economical benefits for local population, has immense potential in HoB area, which has some of the largest and most important national park in the state including the Batang Ai N.P, LEWS in south, Gunung Mulu N.P, and more.

The north-eastern portion of the HoB has unique geological formations and comprise of Sarawak’s two highest mountains, Gunung Murud (2,424m a.s.l) and Gunung Mulu (2,376m a.s.l)