How will Indonesia’s new capital in Borneo affect wildlife and people?

by Naomi Clark-Shen

In August 2019, President Joko Widodo unveiled plans to move Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan in Borneo. While this move may benefit Indonesia’s economy, there are fears about the impacts to the island’s forests, indigenous people, and animals—including the Bornean orangutans.

Indonesia's new capital city will be located in two of East Kalimantan’s regencies: Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara. These sites are near to orangutan habitat. The sizes of the new cities are hypothetical and based on the size of Jakarta's core city and metropolitan area. Source: The Nature Conservancy. 

Why is this of concern?
A new capital city in Kalimantan will bring more people closer to orangutans, thus increasing the potential for conflict, and giving greater access to orangutan habitats for hunters.

A Dayak elder, one of Indonesia's indigenous peoples.

It is not just the forest that is threatened—but marine life too.

The two locations for Indonesia's new capital city, in Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara, are near to Mahakam River and Balikpapan Bay, which are home to Irrawaddy dolphins. Location of rivers taken from Google maps.

The Irrawaddy dolphin does not have a prominent beak like most other dolphins.


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