An Indonesian child plays where a forest is cleared on the island of Borneo. (AP)

An Indonesian child plays where a forest is cleared on the island of Borneo. (AP)

Untouched rainforests are the natural habitat of the orangutans. (AP)

Untouched rainforests are the natural habitat of the orangutans. (AP)

If the rainforest is cleared, the land can be used for farms like this palm oil plantation. (AP)

If the rainforest is cleared, the land can be used for farms like this palm oil plantation. (AP)

The orange areas mark orangutan habitats on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

The orange areas mark orangutan habitats on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Palm oil from the plantations is bottled by the farmers and sold. (AP)

Palm oil from the plantations is bottled by the farmers and sold. (AP)

Greed or Need?

Posted: November 1, 2017

Fires in Indonesian forests don’t just harm orangutans. They turn the sky yellow. They cover the land in smoke. People get sick from breathing the toxic air. Rare, undiscovered rainforest plants are lost forever. How could the farmers be so cruel?

It isn’t quite that simple. Some land developers on Borneo may actually be greedy. But many workers are needy. The average person in Borneo makes less than two dollars each day. Many people do not have safe water to drink. They have very little medical care. People often die from diseases that could have been avoided. If you lived in Borneo, you might not be too worried about the future of the forest and orangutans. You would probably have another problem on your mind: “How can I make enough money to live today?” Many have found answers: Cut down trees for logs. Burn forests. Farm palm oil.

But God put rainforests in Borneo for the good of animals and people. The trees keep water clean and safe. They stop farmland from washing away. They provide local people with wood. (You can use wood from a forest without cutting the whole thing down.) The trees also are a home to animals and plants. People use these for food and medicine. Besides all that, the people of Borneo could use the rainforest for tourism. If foreigners came to share its beauty, the people of Borneo could earn money from restaurants, hotels, tours, and souvenirs.

Some conservationists have an idea for caring for Borneo’s people, animals, and land at the same time. Instead of just using money to protect animals, they donate things people need too—especially good medical care. They teach people about caring for the rainforest God has entrusted to them.