I was horrified by the destruction of biblical proportions, the Armageddon of devastation left by the loggers and their massive machinery. The loamy ruined soil was rutted naked to the sky, erupted roots exposed and discarded branches left to rot on the beleaguered battlefield. Rudy surveyed the wreckage and waste with his rueful smile.
Borneo logging concessions are valuable, government organised and highly controlled by the State but the inevitable result is forest loss, not only for the indigenous people who depended on it, but for the 10,000 species of plants, nearly 300 species of birds, and a medley of animals ranging from the tiny pygmy squirrel, the iconic orangutan and 12 other primates, and herds of elephant. Amongst the unique flora are some 3,000 types of trees, 2,000 orchids, pitcher plants and the foul-smelling Rafflesia, named for Sir Stamford Raffles, the world’s largest flower with a diameter of one metre. The huge trunks of the dipterocarps are reduced to plywood in the sawmills that Rudy showed me by the coast, then loaded directly onto ocean-going cargo ships to feed the world’s need for building materials.