I’ve just gotten back from the humid jungles of Borneo, where myself and other members of the Moab Monkey crew installed a new custom space net in celebration of preserving biodiversity. We spent the past week enjoying the sights and sounds of Sandakan, Borneo, rigging a colorful “Jungle Nest” above a beautiful lake at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. This was all coordinated as part of an amazing annual festival to celebrate, preserve and teach about the immediate need to protect our rapidly disappearing jungle environments. Over a two day period, hundreds of professional artists, educators and musicians gathered at the 2015 Rhythms of Rimba celebration to share their thoughts, concerns and plans to slow the destruction of their surrounding jungle. During the event it was our duty to facilitate over 200 people from the general public, getting in and out of the suspended net (with a huge amount of help from local Bornean climbers), to enjoy a new perspective of the canopy life around them. Although our role may not have been as educational as the professional lectures given, it offered attendees the opportunity to push themselves past comfort levels in their beautiful home and see new perspectives along the way. We also took advantage of this time to rig several slacklines in the area to teach the general public how to walk again. This gave them a greater appreciation for their own personal balance and mind power, which empowers humans for life.
One of the biggest steps in preserving the rapidly disappearing jungles, due to expanding palm oil plantations and other forms of corporate exploitation, is the simple act of educating people on the importance of protecting biodiversity as a whole. If you don’t understand the fragility of your own home or wildlife, you’re less likely to take a stand against its destruction. Similarly, if you don’t value its natural presence then you won’t see the absolute need for its existence. This is why the festival was created, to make a positive impact on the surrounding communities and take a stand against the decimation of our own biodiversity.
By deforesting our rainforests in the name of human greed we simultaneously destroy all fragile ecosystems, plants and animals that require them to live, including ourselves. Borneo supports over 15,000 different plant species alone, which rivals that of the entire African continent, and may well represent the highest level of over all plant diversity on planet Earth. A lot of this vegetation remains endemic to the unique island of Borneo, so when rampant deforestation and wildfires takes place, as a direct result of the growing palm oil industry, this precious life disappears forever. When you take into account that many endangered species are already struggling to live on this large island (the thirds largest in the world after Greenland and New Guinea), such as the colugo flying squirrels, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, orangutans, clouded leopards, gibbons and sun bears, you realize many changes need to be made in regard to our human behaviors and priorities for this biodiversity to continue existing. If drastic changes aren’t made more life will be lost and our future generations will be deprived of a more diverse world to live in.
In the attempt to educate and make positive change in the world, Anton Ngui and Jocelyn Lori Stokes have helped organize and run the Future Alam Borneo Rhythms of Rimba celebration every year. I feel incredibly privileged to have been invited to such a wonderfully inspiring event and to be given the chance to learn more about our changing world. We all had a blast attending various conferences there and mixing with the local people/artists, coming away with new perspectives and greater appreciation for endangered environments. I learned that it’s not necessary for everyone to become a powerful politician to make drastic policy changes “to save the world,” although that is one approach, but rather its generally more accessible to be educated about the changing environment around you and to make lifestyle changes accordingly. If we all strive to improve our daily choices, which affect the well being of everything around us, then we can start to see positive change over time. By making incremental adjustments to our daily routines we can be more environmentally friendly. For example: using less water and fuel, consuming less in general, learning to reuse “things” instead of replacing them with something new, not supporting the palm oil industry and demand (based on what we choose to purchase), etc. are all tangible ways of diminishing our human impact. This is where real empowerment comes from, when individuals collectively make small changes in lifestyle choices to effect positive shifts with the impacts of our consumer consumption and culture.
I wanted to give a big thanks to the supportive local community who came out to help construct the colorful “Jungle Nest:” Nolan Smythe, Josh Schlaline, Dominique LaFleur, and Hayley Ashburn. Thanks for putting in the time, blisters, creativity and hard work. Over a 2 day period, in 100+ degree heat, it took 19 hours of accumulative weaving to create this interactive art piece. Approximately 4,500 feet of fluorescent paracord was hand woven into the net with 60 feet of reused/recycled climbing rope and 100 feet of reused amsteel for the outer frame. Another big thanks goes out to Gibbon Slacklines for donating some webbing to the cause of our rigging efforts and Paracordplanet.com for providing super colorful paracord for our net construction.