Health In Harmony
(Credit: Health In Harmony video)

Since the 1970s, about a third of Borneo’s forest cover has been destroyed by agriculture, fire, and logging.

Kinari Webb of the nonprofit Health in Harmony says some residents of this Southeast Asian island feel they have no choice but to engage in illegal logging.

They log to pay for healthcare.

'One medical emergency can cost an entire year's income. Basically, the only way to get that is to log the rainforest.' Click To Tweet

Webb: “I know one man who cut down 60 trees to pay for a C-Section. One medical emergency can cost an entire year’s income. Basically, the only way to get that is to log the rainforest.”

So to help people afford healthcare without logging, Webb’s group helped create a hospital near Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park.

Patients can pay with non-cash items such as handicrafts or seedlings … or their own labor. People from villages that do not participate in illegal logging pay discounted rates.

Webb says the model works. Her group surveyed more than a thousand households and found that the number participating in logging had dropped by more than two-thirds in just five years.

She says slowing deforestation around the world starts with listening to local people.

Webb: “We need to ask them what they need and then funnel those resources to them. Everyone in the world will do better if these communities do better.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.