WWF in Action: Borneo

Swapping Debt for Nature in Borneo


A debt-for-nature swap relieves the debt burden of developing countries owed to the U.S. government, while generating funds in local currency to support tropical forest conservation activities. In 1987, WWF helped design the first ever debt-for-nature swap in Ecuador.

Funds raised through these swaps can be applied through trust funds or foundations specifically set up to channel funding to local biodiversity conservation. This investment in Borneo’s forests will be used to establish working models for forest conservation and green gas reductions in three districts within Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, and its forests, which are being destroyed at the rate of nearly 2.1 million acres a year, shelter orangutans, gibbons, some of the world’s rarest elephants, and well over 10,000 species of plants. Almost 8 million people live in East and West Kalimantan, and forest loss is impacting their main source of food, water, medicine and building materials. Deforestation is also contributing to climate change.

Negotiated by WWF’s Conservation Finance team, the deal will help local communities protect their forests, securing a home for wildlife as well as long-term economic growth.
WWF continues to work to protect Borneo’s forests using other strategies. Approximately three-quarters of Indonesia’s timber is illegally harvested. WWF assists producers and traders, educates consumers, and works with partners to enable responsible forestry and restore local communities. WWF is implementing a collaborative conservation plan with the governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia to protect the Heart of Borneo, an area of equatorial rain forests.