Engaging Coastal Communities in Ramsar Site – Pitas Laut

By Cassandra Albanus, 20 March 2017

Map of Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands. It is situated in the east of the state of Sabah and includes three Forest Reserves: Trusan Kinabatangan Forest Reserve (40,471 ha), Kulamba Wildlife Reserve (20,682 ha), and Kuala Maruap and Kuala Segama Forest Reserve (17,650 ha).

The Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands Ramsar Site (LKSW-RS) was officially designated as Sabah’s first Ramsar site at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Korea in October 2008. The site covers 78,803 hectares and comprises the largest forest-covered floodplain in Malaysia, and possibly in Southeast Asia.

Neville Yap, Forever Sabah’s Communities, Coasts, Islands and Seas coordinator, has a passion for community based marine and terrestrial resources management, and is obsessed with fishing.

Forever Sabah (FS) Coordinator, Neville and I took the 6:30am flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, the second-largest town in Sabah, to make our way to Kampung Pitas Laut, one of the villages in the Ramsar Community Group 8 (RCG8) process.

The signboard at the end of the village.

RCG8 is a collective effort to advance governance and management of natural resources by building capacity, develop community based natural resources management, and alternative livelihoods.

A view of Kampung Mumiang on our way to Kampung Pitas Laut.

It took us slightly more than an hour manouvering through the mangroves to get to the village by speed boat. It was raining and the wind was strong so we had to hide under a canvas. I even experienced the joy of a plastic bag flying in my face.

One of the jetties at Kampung Pitas Laut.

The community of Pitas Laut is a small fishing village and is home to only 118 people. We were hosted by the family of Pullah Basing, one of the village leaders, who fed us fresh fish and crabs for three days straight. I hope we didn’t look like wild savages devouring the food because every dish was so delicious!

Just as we mention how much we love eating crabs… POOF! Crabs for lunch AND dinner!

This is Pullah Bin Basing, JKK of Pitas Laut. He can stay underwater for as long as 3 minutes!

The wet and muddy path we had to use to get to the beach behind the village.

It will take you one hour to walk from one end of the beach to the other. We didn’t test to see if it’s true.

Many years ago, a ship capsized near Pitas Laut and plastic crates appeared on their shores. The people on the ship offered to buy the crates back for 50sen a piece but the community said no because the price was too low.

When we were there, the community of Pitas Laut was in the process of gathering and documenting information about the history of their village, resource use, and later brain storm about their future plans. With this, FS is assisting the community to develop their own working paper.

Pullah Bin Basing’s family hosted us during our stay at Pitas Laut. They made sure we were well fed with the freshest seafood and local cooking. We got photobombed by their pet cat.

We are encapsulating their hopes and aspirations to be translated into project proposals to turn their plans into actions in the near future.

We will keep you posted on this project through our Facebook page and website. If you’d like to know more about our work, do message us on Facebook.


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