West Kalimantan


Land area 14,700,000 ha
Forested area 63% (9,178,800 ha)
1.7 million ha is peatland
Protected area 3,764,700 ha (40% of total forest cover)
Including the Trough Mountain, Lake Sentarum, Gunung Palung and Betung Kerihun National Parks.
Biodiversity significance 2,920,000 ha of the Heart of Borneo lies in West Kalimantan.
The Lake Sentarum National Park in Kapuas Hulu is one of the world’s most biodiverse lake-systems.
Main economic activities
  • Agriculture (rice plant, cassava, peanut and soybean) and fisheries (marine and freshwater/brackish) make up 20% of the economy
  • Plantations of rubber, palm oil, cocoa and pepper provide income for smallholder farmers
  • Mining and quarrying (coal, iron ore, gold)
  • Services industry makes up almost 10% of the economy
Main threats to forest and peatlands
  • Palm oil cultivation (accounted for 75% of deforestation 2009-2011)
  • Logging: commercial and local (over 1 million ha have already been deforested by local illegal loggers)
  • Commercial mining of coal and iron ore

forest in Gunung Palung

Forest in Gunung Palung, West Kalimantan

About West Kalimantan

West Kalimantan is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sarawak in the north, and by East and Central Kalimantan in the east. Mountain ranges form much of the northern and south-eastern boundaries and are covered with dense forest. The inland and coastal swampy lowlands are defined by more than 100 rivers, which meet the Java Sea and Karimata Strait on the western coast.


The ecosystems found in swamps and lowlands are among the most important in the world. Tropical mangrove forests along West Kalimantan’s many rivers and western coast are vital to water quality, carbon pools, fish stocks, and protection for local communities against tropical storms.

The Lake Sentarum National Park in the Kapuas Hulu regency is a floodplain of 20 lakes, freshwater swamps and 66,000 ha of peat swamp forests. Besides being a vital carbon stock, the national park is home to 29% of Indonesia’s native mammal species and 43 plant species found nowhere else in the world. Lake Sentarum itself is the third most biodiverse tropical lake in the world, containing hundreds of unique fish species. This ecosystem forms the upper basin of Indonesia’s largest river, Kapuas, and significantly affects its water flow and quality. Almost 4 million people across West Kalimantan rely on the Kapuas River for fishing, bathing and transport.

West Kalimantan economy

The export value of West Kalimantan in 2012 was $120 million with main exports being wood, rubber and metal. Agriculture and forestry contributes the largest sector to the economy. Illegal logging is a wealthy sector in the province and is often smuggled by locals across the northern border to the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Commercial industries have the largest presence in the palm oil sector, but local farmers contribute significantly to rubber plantations which provide 20% of province export income. Local farmers also cultivate rice, cassava, soybean and other cash crops, with copra being produced in coastal areas. Animal husbandry and fishing are also a source of income for local communities.

West Kalimantan is also rich in a variety of minerals and precious stones. Commercial mining for coal and iron ore accounts for the majority of mining in the province, but there are many unregistered coal, diamond, gold and silver quarrying operations run by local Indonesian miners. Remote communities have traditionally panned for gold in river sandbanks after significant rain churns up deposits.

Threats to forest and biodiversity

Over 70% of West Kalimantan’s land has been allocated to concessions and permits for mining (5 million ha), logging (2.2 million ha) and palm oil plantation (4.7 million ha). In Ketapang, all of its land – and then some – has been designated for concessions (103% of land area). If this extreme over-allocation is not resolved West Kalimantan’s annual deforestation rate of 132,500 ha will soar.

The majority of deforestation in West Kalimantan has derived from palm oil plantations and logging. From 1990 to 2010, there was a 600% increase in palm oil plantations in Indonesia, a large portion of this activity occurred in West Kalimantan. An estimated two-thirds of logging in West Kalimantan is illegal, with local illegal miners clearing 10,000 ha of forest annually.

Much of these activities infringe on protected forest, leading to significant loss of biodiversity and increased land erosion. Furthermore half of West Kalimantan’s remaining carbon stock lies in production forest, and only 1.2% of West Kalimantan is still covered by peat areas. The loss of carbons stocks has significant implications for carbon emissions and climate patterns in the area.

forest in Gunung Palung

Illegally felled timber in West Kalimantan