Indigenous communities have managed the forests and rivers of Borneo for countless generations, relying the rich ecosystems for hunting, gathering, and farming purposes. Unique agricultural practices have evolved to suit the many varying ecosystems of the island.
Most of the indigenous communities of Borneo do not have legal rights to the land that they depend on for their lives and livelihoods. This means that the government has the ability to lease community lands to loggers or plantation companies. These companies then forcefully remove people from their own land and use it for the company’s own profit, without sharing any of the benefits with the local communities. All too often, communities do not know that they have customary rights to their land until it is too late. For communities actively seeking legal land rights, the cost and time involved in the process is often a barrier that is impossible to overcome (for more information on this struggle, check out our documentary film on land rights, Rumah Nor.)
These problems are hardly unique to Borneo; they are part of a larger struggle for self-determination and human rights being fought by indigenous people all over the world. Supporting communities in their fight to secure land rights and cultural self-determination is an integral part of our work at The Borneo Project.