In the state of Sabah, the Alab Lanas and Simbuan indigenous peoples are facing environmental degradation as their traditional community areas or "adat" are overlapped by logging concessions in the Forest Management Unit 11 (Ulu Sungai Milian). The communities are intertwined with the Community Forest Reserves, making the conservation and preservation of forest resources of utmost importance. The Community Forest Reserves have high conservation values such as water catchment areas, sacred areas, non-logging resource areas and recreation areas. Their main livelihoods depend heavily on hill paddy farming and non-timber forest products (NTFP) for daily subsistence; and rubber and fruit cultivation are considered a long-term source of economic income.
In 1983, however, the state government had gazetted the Ulu Sungai Milian Forest Reserve as a commercial forest under Class 2 Forest Reserve. This gazettement has resulted to the overlapping between the Forest Reserve and the customary territories of the Kampung Alab community as well as the Simbuan community water catchment. Furthermore, the developers licensed by the Forest Management Unit (FMU) began developing a 20,000-hectare area with rubber cultivation --- one of the largest rubber plantations in Malaysia. These overlaps have reduced the area of indigenous territories and consequently, destroying biodiversity resources and limiting the communities’ access to their forest resource. This problem will continue unless a negotiation or settlement is achieved on a cooperative relationship among the stakeholders.
With support from the ICCA-GSI project, the communities are undertaking a natural resource mapping and inventory in their customary territories (HCV 5&6) as well as documenting traditional knowledge and practices to strengthen community protocols for the sustainable use of natural resources. The outcomes of these activities are shared in meetings and field visits with stakeholders from the Forestry Department, Bornion Timber Company (concession licensee for logging activities throughout the state of Sabah) and other agencies in view of establishing a platform for negotiation towards shared management.
This project started on August 2018 and will end on October 2020. For more information, please visit the project page.
Photos - Top left: The state assemblyman, YB Datuk Ellron Angin visits Alab Lanas ICCA area with the villagers to see the deterioration due to overlapping lands. Bottom right: Community member uses paint to mark high value fruit trees and wood