Borneo montane rain forests
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (June 2010)
Location and description
This ecoregion consists of tropical mountain cloud forest and laurel forest. In the higher elevations, above 1000 m, in the centre of Borneo with sections in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei-owned territories of the island. These cooler and moister slopes stick up out of the carpet of thick rainforest that covers the warmer lowlands below, and as well as additional rainfall also derive moisture from low cloud. Soils are poorer and more acidic than the lowlands.
The isolated higher and cooler forests of the island are home to a rich and distinctive set of plants of both Asian and Australian origin. There are especially large numbers of Nepenthes pitcher plants (>15 species), rhododendrons, and orchids. This ecoregion also contains important areas of forest on limestone upland, especially Mount Api which has clear altitudinal zones of differing vegetation. Long Pasia in the Meligan Range and the Usun Apau plateau have important areas of high-altitude wetland.
The montane forests are home to a distinct fauna including large numbers of mammals such as civets (such as the rare Hose's civet Diplogale hosei, endemic to these montane forests), tree shrews, squirrels, and rats and primates such as orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), gibbons, and langurs. Although most of these primates prefer lower elevations there are especially good numbers of the large macaque monkeys and as the forests are less-disturbed at higher elevations larger animals such as orangutans and Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) have retreated here from the lowlands. Although there are fewer birds in the Bornean mountains than in the lowlands there is a higher proportion of endemic species, indeed most of Borneo's unique birds live in the montane forests e.g. on Mount Mulu in Sarawak there are 171 different birds in the lowlands and only 12 species at 1300m.
Threats and preservation
The higher elevations of Borneo are inaccessible and therefore over 90% of original habitat remains intact, despite the forest fires of 1997-8 that damaged so much of Borneo's lowland forest. About 25% is in protected areas including a very large block in Kayan Mentarang National Park, which is home to communities of indigenous people but is threatened by commercial logging and road building. This park and others such as Betung Kerihun National Park are important refuges for wildlife as lowland habitats are being systematically removed.
- "Borneo montane rain forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.