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Climate Change and Deforestation in Borneo – May 3rd, 2013

1.0N 114.2E

May 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Deforestation, Image of the day, Vegetation Index

Indonesia – May 3rd, 2013

This image focuses on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia, showing its vegetation index. The rainforests of Southeast Asia support much of the region’s biodiversity. They play a crucial role in providing important ecosystem services such as soil stabilisation and carbon storage, and are an important source of income locally and nationally.

However, these lowland forests are under serious threat from direct and indirect human activities. Deforestation is occurring at a huge rate, due to logging for timber, conversion to huge agricultural plantations, and slash-and-burn farming methods. This has a serious impact on biodiversity and general functioning of the ecosystem and, as a result, affects the livelihoods of the many people who depend on the forests for income, shelter, water and food.

Perhaps the biggest and most long-term threat facing the rainforests, however, is posed by climate change, in particular increasingly severe and frequent droughts associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events – the dry phase of a global cycle driving our climate. The wet La Niña phase of the ENSO cycle is also becoming more intense, leading to increasing frequency and size of large rainstorms. These wash away huge amounts of soil (and with it, valuable nutrients), which then ends up in the rivers causing sedimentation and flooding downstream.

The most important group of tree species in the rainforests of Borneo are the dipterocarps, which includes some of the largest forest species that grow in the tropics. In fact, Borneo hosts the greatest diversity and abundance of dipterocarps in the world – but they are suffering severely from the threats outlined above. The reduced recruitment of new seedlings and regeneration of older trees could have potentially disastrous implications. The future of the dipterocarps is at risk beyond the current generation unless restorative intervention is carried out (click here for more information).

Indonesia’s government has put plans for climate change management into effect, stressing the importance of conservation and utilization of the natural environment to support sustainable economic growth and the increased welfare of the people. Main programs include working on pollution and emission controls, reducing deforestation, peat lands management improvements and environmental rehabilitation. Indonesia and Australia are also working together to protect the forests of Kalimantan, the part of Borneo that belongs to Indonesia.

Pontianak by Kapuas River Delta, Indonesia

-0.0N 109.3E

March 10th, 2012 Category: Rivers

Indonesia - January 4th, 2012

Visible as a small white area near the shores of the island of Borneo is Pontianak, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. It is located almost precisely on the equator, hence it is widely known as Kota Khatulistiwa (Equator City). As can be observed in this orthorectified wide-swath ASAR image, the land near the city is mostly flat, while some hills are visible to the north and northeast.

Pontianak is a medium-size industrial city that occupies an area of 107.82 km² in the delta of the Kapuas River. The Kapuas River  is a river in the Indonesian part of Borneo island, at the geographic center of Maritime Southeast Asia. At 1,143 kilometers (710 mi) in length, it is the longest river of Indonesia and one of the world’s longest island rivers. It originates in the Müller mountain range at the center of the island and flows west into the South China Sea creating an extended marshy delta.

Vegetation Index of Borneo, Belintung and Java, Indonesia

6.9S 107.6E

February 18th, 2012 Category: Vegetation Index

Indonesia - January 4th, 2012

This FAPAR image shows the vegetation index of Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, above), Belintung (also part of Indonesia, near the left edge), and Java (another island of Indonesia, below). The index range from good (green) to high (rusty red) on all three islands, with very few areas of low (yellow) activity.

Belintung is a medium sized island of about 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2), it consists of moderately rugged terrain with several hills. Java is almost entirely of volcanic origin; it contains thirty-eight mountains forming an east-west spine. More mountains and highlands help to split the interior into a series of relatively isolated regions suitable for wet-rice cultivation.

Vegetation Index of Borneo, Home to One of World’s Oldest Rainforests

0.8N 112.5E

February 17th, 2012 Category: Vegetation Index

Indonesia - January 4th, 2012

This FAPAR image shows the vegetation index of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. It is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia. The island is divided among three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world, along with the Daintree Rainforest in Australia and the Amazon rainforest. The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area shrank rapidly due to heavy logging for the needs of the Malaysian plywood industry. Despite this, the vegetation index is generally good (green) throughout the island, with patches of high activity (rusty red) scattered throughout.

Borneo, Sulawesi and Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia

1.8S 120.5E

November 30th, 2011 Category: Snapshots

Indonesia - November 25th, 2011

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. Visible here are Borneo (left), Sulawesi (center) and the Lesser Sunda Islands (bottom).

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It is divided among three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory.

Sulawesi is the world’s eleventh-largest island, covering an area of 174,600 km2 (67,413 sq mi). It has a distinctive shape, dominated by four large peninsulas (best observed in the full image): the Semenanjung Minahassa; the East Peninsula; the South Peninsula; and the South-east Peninsula. The central part of the island is ruggedly mountainous, such that the island’s peninsulas have traditionally been remote from each other, with better connections by sea than by road.

The Lesser Sunda Islands, or Nusa Tenggara, are a group of islands in the southern Maritime Southeast Asia, north of Australia. Together with the Greater Sunda Islands to the west they make up the Sunda Islands. The islands are part of a volcanic arc, the Sunda Arc, formed by subduction along the Java Trench in the Java Sea.

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