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Christmas gift to the planet: massive rainforest reserve created in Borneo

23 / 12 / 2015, Mongabaycom News

Christmas has come early for some of the planet's most endangered animals: the Malaysian state of Sabah has established a 68,000-hectare rainforest reserve that houses orangutans, elephants, and clouded leopards, among countless other species. The decision was announced today by the Rainforest Trust, an NGO that raised money to support the designation of a logging concession as a Class I Forest Reserve. Although the area was heavily exploited for timber, Kuamut Forest Reserve nonetheless serves as critical habitat for wildlife and connects two world-renowned protected areas — Maliau and Danum Valley — providing a vital corridor in a landscape that has been widely cleared for oil palm plantations. "The Kuamut Forest Reserve is a crucial link in a huge protected area complex extending across more than 77 miles of lowland rainforest and encompassing a wide variety of habitats for wildlife," said Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, in a statement. "After a struggle against logging and oil palm companies and their desire to open up these forests to development, we have finally secured protection for this exceptional area. The declaration of the Kuamut Forest Reserve is one of the greatest refuges for biodiversity in all of Borneo." [caption width="780" align="alignnone"] Rainforest in nearby Imbak Canyon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler[/caption] [caption width="780" align="alignnone"] Rainforest in Sabah. Photo by Rhett A. Butler[/caption] Rainforest Trust notes that the area is home to an estimated 700 orangutans, 340 species of birds, and at least 60 species of amphibians, 75 reptile species, and 40…

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