News Focus

Saving Forests to Save Biodiversity

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Science  10 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5997, pp. 1278-1280
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5997.1278

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Over the past decade, scientists on Borneo have found insects, plants, fish, and even a bird that are new to science at the rate of about three per month. This hidden diversity is not just on Borneo. On New Guinea, which Indonesia shares with Papua New Guinea, recent expeditions to the remote Foja Mountains on the island's northern edge have also produced bumper crops of novel organisms. Yet even as scientists are documenting Indonesia's biodiversity (see p. 1270), it is increasingly threatened. The list of endangered plants and animals is long. And Indonesia may have the world's highest rate of deforestation. But in the past 5 years, Indonesia has reduced illegal logging, and there are new initiatives to restore degraded areas and protect the remaining forests, particularly a whopping $1 billion deal with Norway earlier this year to set aside large amounts of forest. And there is a new attitude among the public and Indonesia's political leaders.