The rainforest of Borneo in the growing country of Malaysia is said to be the oldest rainforest on the planet, 70 million years older than the Amazon. Hundreds of species of plants and animals inhabit the forest of Borneo with many new species still being discovered each year. Borneo, with its dense forest and uncountable number of unique species, is one of the world’s greatest natural treasures. Malaysia, determined to develop its growing economy, has difficult choices to make about how to ensure the safety of its natural resources.
The government of Malaysia has reached a decision by choosing industrialization as a way forward to further develop its economy. In one area alone, the government is looking for foreign investment in steel, aluminum, petrochemicals, and glass production. Other sites further down the coast are being developed for food processing, fish farming, palm-oil production, information technology, and of course timber production. Concerns are being raised about how destructive logging and other commercial activities can be extremely damaging to the environment. However, this has not discouraged countries across the world from investing billions of dollars in these projects.
To power these industrial projects, Malaysia has built one massive hydro-electric dam, flooding 700 square kilometers of land and cutting down 230 square kilometers of rainforest. One other dam is under construction and a third dam is currently being planned. Eco-tourism and a few million dollars from the United Nations’ campaign to prevent deforestation cannot compete with the billions of dollars Malaysia has already received from foreign investors. Advocates of industrialization have argued that the benefits from commercial activities outweigh the harm done to Malaysia’s natural treasures.
With bulldozers already clearing land and trucks hauling steel to industrial construction sites, it may be too late to prevent commercial activities from destroying Malaysia’s rainforest. As the world moves forward and the population increases dramatically, countries will continually be faced with choices regarding the safety of its natural treasures. Debates over which way to move forward will take place every year and sometimes the choice will be ours to make. Do you agree with the decision of business development over protecting Earth’s natural resources?