Seeing the fruit for the trees in Borneo

Seeing the fruit for the trees in Borneo


Lowland dipterocarp tropical rainforests reproduce during infrequent community-wide events known as ‘general flowering.’ These unpredictable cycles, thought to be influenced by El Niño cycles, are the primary reproductive driver across this forest type. During a time of rapid deforestation across the highly diverse, but highly sensitive, dipterocarp-dominated landscape of Borneo, capitalizing on general flowering is critical for seed collection for restoration efforts and for species preservation.

Conclusions & takeaways

During the 2009 general flowering event, preparedness and organizational capacity to collect and handle seeds was inadequate to take advantage of the abundant fruiting. During a time of rapid deforestation, missing such opportunities can potentially mean losing rare and threatened species. While nurseries, forest protection organizations, scientific knowledge, and government funding exist, these were not adequately coordinated or deployed in 2009. The authors advocate for a governmental commitment to invest in building capacity for restoration in strategic areas. Supporting regional seed banks and local organizations that coordinate with smallholders and farmers to encourage sustainable use and incentivize community restoration projects can increase the capacity for widespread involvement.


Kettle CJ, Ghazoul J, Ashton P, et al. Seeing the fruit for the trees in Borneo. Conservation Letters. 2011;4:184–191. doi:10.1111/j.1755-263x.2010.00161.x.


  • Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Zurich, Switzerland