Collaborative Community Conservation in Sabah

In Ulu Papar, Sabah, communities erect small huts made of forest resources as resting places while working in their rice paddies. Credit: Ephraem Lompoduk (community researcher from Buayan, Sabah).

On Sept. 28th, Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended the eighth and final workshop in the “Learning Platform for Biocultural Diversity and Conservation” series in Sabah, Malaysia. The Platform was part of a project on traditional ecological knowledge in Sabah between the Global Diversity Foundation, Sabah Biodiversity Centre, and Sabah Parks, with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The workshop focused on the second component of the project, which aimed to identify potential indigenous peoples’ and community conserved areas (ICCAs) in Sabah. Six case studies and a state-wide desk review illustrate the various existing provisions in Sabah law and policy for ICCAs. Some key provisions, especially under the Sabah Land Ordinance, also have the potential to undermine those supportive provisions. Land tenure, including differences between individual title and communal title and notions of “idle land”, is of particular concern. The Sabah Biodiversity Council was noted as the institution with the most political leverage and potential positive impact regarding raising awareness about ICCAs and helping establish a process for appropriate recognition in Sabah.

Participants of the workshop included representatives from various government departments, NGOs such as PACOS Trust and WWF, and community members from Bundu Tuhan, Buayan, and Kiau, among others. Raymond Sipanis, a community researcher from Buayan, also screened 5-minute excerpts from the three participatory videos that he and other community researchers have been compiling throughout the project. The final report on ICCAs in Sabah is expected to be released later this year.

29 September 2010

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