The 'cultured rainforests' of Borneo

Borneo has a 50,000-year record of Homo sapiens' interactions with rainforest on the coastal lowlands assembled especially by the interdisciplinary investigation of the archaeology and palaeoecology of the Niah Caves on the coastal plain of Sarawak (Barker et al., 2007; Barker, 2013). More recent work by many of the same team in the interior of Borneo, in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, has combined those approaches with ethnography and anthropology to investigate recent and present-day, as well as past, human-rainforest interactions. In combination, the two projects indicate that the present-day rainforests of Borneo are the product of a deep ecological history related to both natural factors such as climate change and cultural factors such as how different groups of people chose to extract their livelihoods from the forest, including in ways that do not have simple analogies with the subsistence activities of present-day rainforest foragers and farmers in Borneo.