Revival of Serambu Heritage: Protection and Conservation of Its Forest
Bukit Peninjau of Mount Serambu, located some 20km from the capital of Sarawak, lies the site of the cottage built by Rajah Brooke between 1848-1850, to escape the heat of Kuching. Bung Muan, located halfway of Bukit Peninjau, is the former site of three ancestral villages of the Serambu ethnic Bidayuhs in the Bau Distric of Sarawak. It was also in Peninjau where the world famous naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) had stayed back in 1855 and had described it in exuberant detail in The Malay Archipelago. These historical events along with the abundance natural resources available here attracted many visitors from afar. However, due to the lack of regulated protocols lost or stolen artifacts and natural resources such as plants and hunting of wildlife. The surrounding areas are now experiencing rapid development for housing and also for quarry activities. Bung Muan has lost most of its lustrous past when most of the Serambu Bidayuh villages moved downhill. Approximately 1,500 hectares surrounding land along the mountain slope is the last bastion of green, virgin tropical rainforest in the area housing the rich biodiversity of plants and animals, apart from being a source of streams that supply clean potable water to at least 12 of the villages. The local community has recognized the need to protect and conserve the Serambu area as a community-reserved area and that no further cutting of timber and large areas of theforest for farming. etc is allowed while communal collection of plants and herbs for traditional medicinal uses is monitored.
This proposed SGP project entitled “ Revival of Serambu Heritage – Protection and Conservation of its Forest” is a community initiative tp document and map the biodiversity as well as the natural features in the area. It also attempts to regulate tourism and build the capacity of the local community on tourism-related skills for responsible and sustainable tourism. The Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia has committed approximately MYR1.7million to develop the tourism-related buildings but did not include the protection and conservation of the forest and its natural resources.
The objective of this project is to document the biological diversity at Bukit Peninjau along with its natural features and cultural heritage while complimenting the –on-going initiative to revive the Brooke cottage heritage as the Wallace Trail. The information will be instrumental and vital to justify not only for biological diversity conservation but also for promoting responsible and sustainable eco-tourism as an alternative means of livelihood for the local community.
The activities of the project include,
1. Awareness talks and dialogues with the local communities on the importance of conserving the intact forest as the source for clean water supply, herbal medicines, and wild animals in addition to prevention of soil erosion while promoting Bukit Peninjau (Mount Serambu) as a natural heritage site.
2. Survey the perimeter of Bukit Peninjau forest area to establish boundaries of the area to demarcate between traditional and local land.
3. Conduct surveys, to document and map the flora and fauna, the natural resources in the area,. Geo-referencing and marking/tagging of trees/plants of conservation status,
4. Build the capacity by training local youths in tourism related skills, such as handicraft making, homestay programs, nature guides, small business administration and promotion of eco-tourism.
5. Setting up jungle trails to feature natural enclaves such as caves, underground streams, waterfalls, spring wells, etc.
6. Establishing a visitors information center at Kampung Peninjau Lama to brief visitors on the protocols and local regulations observed by the local communities on protecting the area as well as for the conservation and sustainable use of its natural resources.
Among the expected outputs to be derived from this project, the clearly defined perimeter survey of the proposed community forest surrounding Mount Serambu would top the list, while an environmental profile of the area comprising of data/information on community forest and components therein (trees, plants, herbs, animals, natural features) would be crucial for conservation as well as for responsible eco-tourism apart from socio-economic and cultural uses. Following would be the restoration and upgrading of trails, signages, etc and ancetral / ceremonial houses. Most importantly, local communities would be empowered, organized and cohesive in deciding the wise use of their natural resources through awareness programs to be prudent on the use of their natural resources and environment resulting in having the capacity to sustain the project after funding ends.
 

Project Snapshot

Grantee: Rajah Brooke Heritage at Bung Muan, Bukit Peninjau, Bau.
Country: Malaysia
Area Of Work: Biodiversity
Operational Phase: Phase 5
Grant Amount: US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash: US$ 574,000.00
Co-Financing in-Kind: US$ 54,966.00
Project Number: MAL/SGP/OP5/STAR/BD/11/03
Start Date: 11/2011
End Date: 5/2014
Status: Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Significant Participation of Indigenous Peoples
Bidayuh is the collective name for several indigenous groups found in southern Sarawak that are broadly similar in language and culture, and the name "Bidayuh" means 'inhabitants of land'. Originally referred to as Land Dayak during the period of Rajah James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, they constitute one of the main indigenous groups in Sarawak and are found within 40 km of the geographical area known as Greater Kuching
Notable Community Participation
The would be at least 10 nearby villages participating in this project who will serve to benefit from the conservation and protection of the Mount Serambu forest that not only provides the local communities with clean water supply but also to build their capacity to manage and maintain their community forest.