“I hope that all people, both from this country and around the world, would give us their support so that we can keep preserving this beautiful land that belongs to all of us.”
-Sia Ngedau, Penan Activist
Get ready for the Baram Peace Park: a groundbreaking community-led initiative building energy alternatives and sustainable livelihoods in #Sarawak. Support The Borneo Project in 2017 to help us bring this exciting initiative to life with the indigenous peoples of #Borneo#BaramPeacePark #grassroots #activism #action #actonclimate #saverivers #peace #park #upcoming
Posted by The Borneo Project on Thursday, March 16, 2017
The Baram Peace Park – or Taman Damai Baram – is a community initiative designed to protect Sarawak’s last islands of primary forest, celebrate local cultures, and develop sustainable livelihoods. The vision is spearheaded by communities in the upper reach of the Baram River in northern Sarawak, who want to stop logging in their ancestral lands and develop alternative income sources.
The park is currently being negotiated with the Sarawak government and communities are discussing the scope and character of the park. The final form of the park depends on the outcome of these community discussions.
Various activities are currently being pursued in order to establish the park:
The park will establish zones with varying degrees of human activities and ecological protection. Many villages have already mapped their territories using GPS (global positioning system). They are recording important cultural and historic sites, such as burial and hunting grounds, in addition to the coordinates of the geographic extent of the territory used to sustain their livelihoods. The communities will decide on a future land use arrangement based on mapping and a series of inter-community discussions.
Additionally, team of village representatives has begun a forest monitoring project. Their task is to monitor the forest landscape and report illegal logging.
In order to reduce their impacts on the forest, several villages are currently developing strategies to improve agricultural techniques. The focus lies on agroforestry and improving efficiency in paddy fields. Alternative sources of income are currently being explored, including eco-tourism. Since 2012 tourists have been visiting the area under the framework of “Picnic with the Penan“.
Infrastructure projects have so far focused on pedestrian bridges and water pipes. To increase safety, mobility, and access to services, four footbridges have been constructed. To improve the drinking water supply and sanitation water pipes have been built in several villages. Options to establish micro-hydros or solar panels in villages are currently being explored. These renewable energy projects will provide sustainable and affordable power supply.
Sustaining a unique culture
Traditionally, all indigenous groups in the area transmit their history and culture orally. The creation of written accounts of their histories, indigenous traditions, languages, and forest management is key to the survival of their culture. Villages are beginning to recorded this material already.
Communities are concerned with keeping their cultures alive. Time is always dedicated to do traditional dancing and enjoying traditional food and all meetings and workshops.
An ambitious project like the Peace Park calls for solid institutions. Part of the program targets building capacity in local institutions. Currently, all communities are being mobilized through roadshows – tours with presentations and discussions in the villages of the Upper Baram Area. Preliminary meetings between communities have occurred, and further planning meetings and park management trainings are being organized. Fair representation of all communities and interests is essential.
The Borneo Project is working with Malaysian community organizations Keruan and SAVE Rivers as well as international NGOs Bruno Manser Fund to support the communities in their process to establish the Baram Peace Park.