COMMUNITY BASED SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT: USING MICRO-ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT AND CAPACITY BUILDING TO AVOID DEFORESTATION
COMMUNITY BASED SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT: USING MICRO-ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT AND CAPACITY BUILDING TO AVOID DEFORESTATION
The indigenous Penan people of the Ulu Baram River system in Sarawak have experienced significant and far-reaching changes in their physical and cultural landscape over the past thirty years. In less than one generation, this once remote area has undergone high levels of unsustainable timber extraction and subsequent land conversion to monoculture plantations. This rapid loss of primary old growth forests has threatened sustainable levels of wildlife and has made it increasingly difficult for the Penan to gather food, materials and valuable medicinal products from their land. Further, uncontrolled hunting with this timber extraction from nearby logging settlements and plantations has seriously impacted the health and wealth of the surrounding forests that the Penan depend on to sustain their traditional livelihoods. Climate change, deforestation and land conversion has also increased instances and vulnerability to forest fires, placing these valuable forests under increased risk. These factors have positioned the indigenous Penan communities at odds with powerful outside companies, and have intensified the pressure to sell their land and leave their villages. Although the communities in this area have been able to resist thus far, they remain among the poorest, underserved and unrepresented people in Malaysia.

The Koperasi Pelancongan Penan Selungo (KOPPES) project started as a small eco-tourism initiative—Picnic with the Penan (PWTP)—in 2007. PWTP was instigated at the request of village members who had been working at Mulu National Park, where they had seen large numbers of tourists visiting the area to enjoy the wilderness and intact forest eco-systems. It occurred to them that they could replicate this model outside of Mulu in their own villages and pristine forests. Today, PWTP remains true to its mission: to bring international and local tourists to this remote area as a means of creating income for the villages in order to provide an alternative income source to deforestation, land conversion and outward migration. After the trial years of PWTP between1997-2010, an additional opportunity arose to establish two tree nurseries after a mast fruiting period that enabled thousands of valuable hardwood species to be easily collected from the surrounding old growth forests. With support of Moving Mountains Trust UK, this resulted in the five villages—Long Sait, Long Lamam, Long Kerong, Long Speigen and Long Ajeng, to establish the community cooperative KOPPES in 2011.


The KOPPES project is broadly based on the of Model Ecologically Sustainable Community-based Tourism (MESCOT) project. MESCOT is a community-based initiative located at Batu Puteh village on the Kinabatangan River in Sabah that has successfully developed a thriving eco-tourism, home-stay and habitat restoration program over the past 13 years. In early 2011, KOPPES approached MESCOT to help them establish a project that would create alternative and sustainable livelihoods for local Penan people that would help to relieve the current unsustainable pressure on the surrounding forest. The leaders of KOPPES felt that habitat restoration and eco-tourism activities in the Upper Baram complement each other, as restoration is an attraction for tourists, and tourism generates funding and exposure for the project’s environmental work.

The eco-tourism component of KOPPES has already helped to generate jobs and diversify income streams, while also creating an opportunity to raise awareness about the important ecosystems and wildlife of the area. A natural addition to these initial programs is the development of a women-managed micro-enterprise project that produces and sells locally made handicrafts and soaps made from sustainably sourced materials of the forests. This aspect of the project aims to increase incomes that directly benefit local woman, while also continuing traditions and practices. All of these initiatives will help to provide additional sustainable economic opportunities, but still require increased skills training and capacity development to be successful. Currently, the project does not have the financial management, facilities, internal knowledge or skills base to sustain the project beyond its current “start up” stage without further support from outside organizations.

KOPPES is at a point in the organizations trajectory where it wants to increase tourism and facilitate micro-enterprise opportunities within the communities, but does not know how to take the next step without outside assistance. The Penan communities are ready and willing to elevate their project but they require guidance at this critical stage in their development. A result of this, a major component of the proposed project is the ongoing skill building and capacity training that is necessary to ensure that KOPPES members have the knowledge-base to implement these projects.
pROJECT oBJECTIVES:
1.0 To develop a micro-enterprise initiative based on ecotourism activities and handicraft production and sales
2.0 Build the skill set and increase the capacity of local Penan communities to promote the success of the micro-enterprise development projects
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
KOPERASI PELANCONGAN PENAN SELUNGO BARAM BERHAD
Country:
Malaysia
Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Operational Phase:
Phase 5
Grant Amount:
US$ 2,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
Project Number:
MAL/SGP/OP5/Y4/STAR/CC/14/13
Start Date:
11/2014
End Date:
2/2015
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed

Grantee Contact

TOM HEWITT
Phone: +6019 872 6355
Email: aaborneotom@gmail.com
 

Address

UNIT 301, SIGNAL HILL TOWER, 93 JALAN BUKIT BENDERA
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH , 88100

SGP Country office contact

Ms. Shin Shin, Lee
Phone:
603-2107 6055
Email:
Ms. Sook Mei, Lai
Phone:
+603 2107 6056
Email:

Address

Level 10, Menara PJH, No.2, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Precinct 2,
Putrajaya, 62100

Country Website