Talking Point: The Heart of Borneo Project

PUBLISHED: 11:19 11 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:51 20 February 2013

Talking Point: The Heart of Borneo Project

Talking Point: The Heart of Borneo Project

The Borneo rainforest may seem remote from Wiltshire, but Holli Kilburn from Marlborough is helping young people from across Britain to see deep inside its heart, as ffinlo Costain reveals

The Borneo rainforest may seem remote from Wiltshire, but Holli Kilburn from Marlborough is helping young people from across Britain to see deep inside its heart, as ffinlo Costain reveals



The Heart of Borneo Project team is currently undertaking the first of many high profile interactive research expeditions, seeking out new species, gathering data, and providing exceptional educational resources for schools back in the UK. Their work will also help build the case for protecting some of Borneos most famous indigenous species, such as orang-utans, sun bears and clouded leopards.
Not only that, but Holli is providing the antidote for any student who thinks science is boring. As an adventure scientist shes doing for conservation biology what Indiana Jones did for archaeology. Holli and the rest of the HoB team began their journey west up Borneos Joloi River in December, passing through logging camps, before penetrating deep into the virgin forest at the foothills of the Schwaner Mountains and finally navigating the dangerous rapid-strewn upper river in canoes.
After three weeks journey into the dense jungle, they set up camp at the heart of the largest rainforest in Southeast Asia, where Holli will spend up to two months suspended high in the forest canopy hunting for new species. Around 70% of life in the rainforest is above the ground, which is why as the only canopy researcher Holli is such an integral part of the HoB team.
Holli grew up in Marlborough, passing first through St Marys school, then St Peters and St Johns. Her BSc in Conservation Biology came from the University of the West of England. So, whats taken her half way across the world to climb a tree?



Holli's doing for conservation biology what Indiana Jones did for archaelogy



Rainforests are one of the key front lines in the battle against climate change. They provide enormous carbon sinks that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, but when they die they release their huge stores of carbon back into the air, accelerating global warming. Its widely accepted by climate scientists that when the rainforests die they will tip us precariously closer to runaway climate change. Our planet loses an area of rainforest larger than England each year, and at current logging rates Borneos rainforest will be lost by 2030.
But because theyre so vital to humanitys survival, rainforests have been climbing ever higher up the global agenda. Partly due to the efforts of Prince Charles and the Princes Rainforest Project, recent UN climate talks centred on finding ways to persuade rich nations like Britain to establish a fund to ensure the survival of this incredibly valuable resource. But today rainforests are still being destroyed at an alarming rate, replaced by cash crops like palm oil plantations. In 2006, Britains Nicholas Stern was the first economist to prove that rainforests are worth more alive than dead, and the recent UN talks have at last started to pave the way towards necessary financial agreement.
Holli Kilburn and the Heart of Borneo Project team are gathering data that will be essential to supporting the case for rainforest preservation. Their research will help build a detailed picture of Borneos rainforest, which will help show the impact it has on the rest of the world and provide evidence for why it should be protected.
The Heart of Borneo Project is interactive, meaning you can watch videos of the teams progress right now online at heartofborneo.org. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter too. The website also has fantastic lesson plans and other teacher resources, provided by the Princes Rainforest Project.
When Hollis back from the jungle she hopes to visit as many schools as possible running workshops about what she discovered up in the trees and helping inspire more young people to get practical about science. To get in touch with her, just visit the website, or contact Lindsay Leyden at l.leyden@heartofborneo.org.

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