A letter from our Executive Director

Dear Borneo Project Community,

As much as the world sometimes seems mired in breakdowns and catastrophe, we’re on the cusp of realizing important changes everywhere, and it’s no different in Borneo. The predatory economic systems that have depended on environmental destruction, systemic racism, and growing inequality are flailing. We are undergoing rapid change. We have some steep and slippery hills yet to climb, but a different future is in sight. 

In Malaysian Borneo, we’re continuing to work with communities who have been fighting for decades to establish a protected area in their territories, and we’re closer than we ever have been to making this a reality. In a game-changing new development, the Sarawak state government has agreed to establish the Baram Peace Park (BPP), a project focused on community-led forest management and regenerative livelihoods. The only thing standing in our way is raising the required funds to implement the vision. The BPP will remove logging concessions from the largest remaining primary forest area outside of a protected area in Sarawak. This area is a critical wildlife corridor in the Heart of Borneo, and the ancestral lands of the Kenyah, Penan, Kelabit, and Sab’an peoples who have managed these forests for centuries.  

Because we’re building new and exciting models in Sarawak, we’re also up against some powerful actors that are less than pleased about our progress. Samling, an international logging company notorious for extensive and repeated violations of Indigenous rights and environmental regulations, has recently threatened to sue the communities who have been opposing logging operations on their territory. These threats tell us that our work is having an impact. While logging companies usually just ignore community statements and NGOs, they’re now feeling the pressure from the Stop the Chop campaign that we launched in 2020. Stop the Chop has been exposing the flawed certification of logging operations in the upper Baram river basin, and more and more communities are joining the fight and sharing their stories. 

Samling is trying to strongarm us and the communities into silence, but it won’t work. The threats are giving us a lot more work to do — and some potentially hefty legal fees — but we’re up for the challenge. Their threats give us new energy and ammunition, and this drive is pushing us to more creative visions of our work. We are determined to keep exposing grievous flaws in the logging industry, to do our part to create regenerative, inclusive, and healthy life systems in Sarawak, and to make the BPP a reality. 

We need your continuing support to make this happen.

In the words of visionary organizer adrienne maree brown, “all organizing is science fiction – that we are shaping the future we long for and have not yet experienced. I believe that we are in an imagination battle.” What we are doing — organizing to create new models in Sarawak— seemed like an impossible vision not so long ago. Our work is science fiction that is rooted in hope and possibility. 

The multitudes of organizers creating these new visions of life around the world gives me great hope to look beyond the everyday tragedies of the news cycle. We all have a responsibility to take part in the work and nurture new visions of the future:

 “that we cannot see all the way to the transformed society we need does not mean it is impossible. We will reach it by not one great leap but a long journey, step by step…Each shift makes more shifts possible. But only if we go actively toward the possibilities rather than passively into the collapse.” – Rebecca Solnit

I’m grateful that The Borneo Project is part of the global community of visionary organizers and regular folks creating new possibilities around the world. I want to thank all of our allies and all of our supporters like you, without which none of this would be possible. 

In solidarity,

Jettie Word

Executive Director, The Borneo Project 

P.S. This summer, Pioneer Millworks is matching all donations up to $15,000. Help us get to $30k for our 30th anniversary year!