New Report: Local Community Resistance is Saving Some of the Last Rainforests in the Heart of Borneo

Despite reduction in Indonesia’s deforestation rates, much of the country’s remaining rainforests are still under threat

A new report from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) shows that despite the reduction of deforestation rates in the past few years, much of the remaining critical rainforests of Indonesia are still under threat –– kept under company concessions and could be logged or converted to plantations at any moment. The stewardship of local and Indigenous communities, and their resistance to industrial development, is one of the only things saving some of these last rainforests.

Focused on the region known as the Heart of Borneo in North and East Kalimantan, the report details how one dynamic Indigenous community called Long Isun has been fighting against logging operations on their land and for their legal land rights to be recognized for over a decade, facing intense threats and criminalization along the way.

“In defending our source of life, including the forest, land, water, and our dignity, I was arrested for 109 days,” said Long Isun community member Theodor Tekwan Ajat, called Tekwan, Head of the Forest Management Organization of Long Isun. “Until this day, my status is still listed as a suspect and I am required to report to the police.” Tekwan was imprisoned and criminalized by local police without charges ––  a tactic that Long Isun believes was employed by the primary logging company in conflict with the community, with the support of the police, to coerce the community into accepting the logging operation.

A number of major international brands, including consumer goods companies Procter & Gamble and Mondelēz, are connected to the case, despite adopting leading No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation policies. These companies continue to do business with the powerful conglomerate Harita Group –– one of the most influential corporate groups in the palm oil and timber sectors in Indonesia –– which controls two logging companies holding the rights to develop Long Isun’s forests. A formal complaint has been raised to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), one of the world’s largest paper and timber certification systems, over the Harita Group’s violation of Long Isun’s traditional rights and its refusal to permanently withdraw the plans to log the community’s customary lands. In 2017, the FSC revoked the certificate of one Harita Group company over the land conflict in Long Isun, confirming violations against its standards. In February 2023, the FSC announced that it will not pursue an alternative dispute resolution process with the Harita Group after another one of its timber companies had its certificate suspended due to major non-conformities with FSC requirements.

“Globally, we stand on the precipice of an unstoppable climate crisis, and any further forest destruction will only push us closer to the edge,” said Daniel Carrillo, Forest Campaign Director at Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “Meanwhile, the very communities attempting to protect these invaluable rainforests for all of us are facing increasing threats and reprisals. This must stop now and these multinational companies have the power to change it.”

RAN is calling on Procter & Gamble and Mondelēz, and other connected brands, to enforce their sourcing policies and require that their supplier –– the Harita Group –– adheres to these policies across all of the Harita Group’s operations, including their proposed timber operations that overlap with the customary lands of the Long Isun community.

The growing threats to the region known as the Heart of Borneo are mounting, with nearly two-thirds of the forests in North and East Kalimantan (where most of the Bornean rainforest is concentrated) still within company concessions. The impending move of the capital city of Indonesia to the region only compounds the threats to these rainforests.

The above allegations were raised to the Harita Group and were denied by them, their response can be found at