By Cassandra Albanus, 20 March 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We are encapsulating their hopes and aspirations to be translated into project proposals to turn their plans into actions in the near future.