A letter from our Executive Director


Dear Friends of The Borneo Project,

This year has flown by, and while it has been full of the all-too-familiar anxieties about the climate crisis and the world, I also see a collective change happening. A great transition is taking place in communities around the world as we transform (back) into a sustainable human society that recognizes we are not separate from our environment.  If we exploit and destroy the natural systems around us, we destroy our own futures. This understanding for the natural world has been continuously upheld by Indigenous cultures, and while some modern solutions are needed for our modern problems, we cannot move ahead without taking our cues from these ways of thinking.

At The Borneo Project, we’re led by Indigenous priorities and wisdom, and we use those values to inform projects that result in real transformation. 

Earlier this year we launched the Baram Heritage Survey, an ambitious project guided by Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) applied in a modern scientific context. Last month we began the Heritage Survey by hiring and training Penan and Kenyah people from the Baram River Basin to collect data on flora, fauna, carbon, hunting, and land use. This information is an essential step in gathering the baseline information needed to establish Indigenous-managed conservation initiatives. 

The method we are using breaks from the conventional approach to wildlife surveys, which sends grad students (often foreign to the area) to collect ecological data. While conventional surveys are important tools in specific contexts, the impacts of the TEK method that we are using go far beyond a conventional survey; our method builds capacity in communities, provides jobs, prioritizes information that is vital for grassroots organizing, trains communities in forest monitoring, and empowers families and villages to make appropriate collective decisions for themselves and their forests. It’s a lot more work than a conventional approach, but well worth the time and resources. 

We chose the more difficult road because it is the right choice. But we need your help for this to succeed.

The Baram Heritage Survey is a big step up for The Borneo Project in terms of commitment and resources. But we know that we can make it happen, thanks to the passion of our staff and our partners on the ground, and also thanks to the strength of our network here at home.

I am asking you to help us meet our increased financial needs because you believe in our work. We are changing the paradigms of development and progress by paying respect to traditional knowledge, because we believe that the best work with the most integrity will come from pathways of Indigenous knowledge. 

We need your help to complete the Baram Heritage Survey.

Protection and restoration of tropical forests is an essential component of preventing catastrophic climate change, the principal responsibility of our time.

This holiday season make a personally significant donation to The Borneo Project. You are the backbone of our organization, and we can’t do it without you.

With gratitude for your continued support,

Jettie Word, Executive Director


PS. Remember to purchase thoughtful gifts this holiday season – skip the plastic crap, buy your sweetie a membership in the Sun Bear Society!