News Archive | Page 2 of 7 | Forever Sabah

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.



Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods for Youth in Borneo (SALY-B) Programme

By Cassandra Albanus, 1 March 2017

Over the next three weeks, 21 youth from villages in the central Sabah district of Telupid and Ranau will learn, discuss and explore what their natural environment means to them and how they could create green businesses and other sustainable livelihoods.

The youth on stage for their poetry and song performances during the SALY-B launch in Kg Paus, Ranau.

“I hope that I can become more independent and learn how to develop tourism related programmes and fish farming. At the moment, I do not have much knowledge about the natural environment and this programme is a way for me to learn,” – Rosepilin Asdin of Kampung Bunakon

Cynthia Ong facilitating the first sit-down with the youth to speak about what they are passionate about and how they view themselves.

“I was uplifted by the energy of the young men and women I met; they were so ready and eager to learn more about their ecological landscapes, dive into issues and understand how developing alternative livelihoods can help shift the realities on the ground.” – Cynthia Ong, Executive Director, LEAP.

Read the full press release here.


Finding Harmony With The Elephants

By Cassandra Albanus, 9 February 2017

Elephants have long roamed the land we live on – before tall buildings decorated our sky, before the Internet and memes, and before a lot of our land was converted into oil palm plantations. Development is happening at a rapid rate, so how do we, as humans, protect these sensitive and highly intelligent creatures? How can we live together in harmony?

Oil palm plantation in Telupid. Picture courtesy of Cynthia Ong.

In Telupid, a small district located in the heart of Sabah, elephants are called, out of respect, “Aki” (grandfather) and “Odu” (grandmother). They are referred to as the “Elders” when they are discussed, as if they were people and members of the community, rather than wild animals.

When a group of Forever Sabah coordinators met with the Telupid communities from Kg Liningkung and Kg Gambaron back in July 2016, they told us heartbreaking stories of elephants looking for food near their homes. This caused quite a stir among the people who live there as crops and properties were damaged.

Eulramio Aguinaldo, a villager from Kg Liningkung shared his story of the Elders passing by his house last year, leaving a dent in his car. Instead of feeling angry, Eulramio expressed sympathy and compassion because he felt like the Elders were sending him a message – “we have no choice but to come here and look for food. We have nothing much left in the forest.”

Kg Gambaron, a neighbouring village, was also visited by the Elders in search of food. One of the villagers told us that in 2015, there was an incident in which a calf used its trunk to push a lady. Sadly, the story was not told as it was in the news, saying she was stepped on instead. This gave the elephants a bad reputation and caused unnecessary unrest.

In 2014, a herd of 30 elephants visited Kg Bauto, Telupid. This elephant was captured and chained by the Sabah Wildlife Department to be translocated. Picture courtesy of Cynthia Ong.

McWesley Widin of Kg Liningkung told us of his experience communicating with two Elders when they came to his village for 3 weeks in May 2016. He was scared so he made his own version of an instrument to produce loud sounds. Despite having a tool to scare the Elders away, he was instead moved to communicate with them in a respectful way.

He mustered up his courage and spoke to them directly when they were 10-20 meters away from him. He said, “Nek, jangan sudah kacau ini sawit sebab ini saja yang kami ada,” which translates to “Odu, please stop disturbing our oil palm because this is the only one we have.”

To his astonishment, one of the small elephants let go of the young oil palm shoot and they moved to another place. He had two other encounters where he communicated respectfully with the Elephants and were understood by the Elders causing them to move to a different place. This protected his fields until they were captured to be translocated.

In July 2016, Forever Sabah, various NGOs including The Forest Trust (TFT), WWF Malaysia, Danau Girang Field Center (DGFC), HUTAN and PACOS Trust, and communities from Kg Liningkung, Kg Bauto, Kg Gambaron and Kg Ulu Muanad, gathered in a hall in Kg Gambaron to better understand the background of the issue and the relationship between elephants and people.

The communities from Kg Gambaron, Kg Liningkung and Kg Bauto showing us the routes that the elephants use in Telupid

After listening to comments made by the villagers – some were filled with worry, anger and hate – there were some who strongly voiced their opinion about finding a way to live in harmony with the Elders. They wanted to know more about how to communicate with them and be their protectors. Some of them even think that one of the causes of migration is the multiple land openings that has been happening.

This process lead to more gatherings and discussions to come up with a proposal for an integrated plan that includes four core components:

  1. Community Elephant Ranger Team (CERT)
  2. Identify Ele-Zone to secure Optimal Habitat for Elephants Outside Conflict Area and Facilitate Movement through the Landscape
  3. Strategic Electric Fencing (to ensure protection of key urban/village areas)
  4. Research Capacity/Function (program establishment in Telupid)

The integrated plan will be developed and implemented through a collaboration comprising of the three villages – Kg Bauto, Kg Gambaron and Kg Liningkung – with technical support from the research organizations and NGOs, in consultation with Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Wildlife Department, under the auspices of the Telupid District Office and facilitated by Forever Sabah.

Forever Sabah will play a lead role in establishing a budget and raising the financial resources necessary for this process.

We will keep you posted on the outcome of the Human-Elephant Harmony project through our Facebook page and website. If you’d like to know more about our work, do message us on Facebook.










Ramsar Community Group 8 (RCG8)

By Cassandra Albanus, 27 December 2016

In early 2015, a process was facilitated to bring together all communities in the Ramsar site in partnership with the Sabah Forestry Department, to open a space for better interactions and collaboration.

This process culminated a collective now known as the Ramsar Community Group of 8 villages, a collective of stakeholders in the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands Ramsar site.

Here is the introductory video on the Ramsar community group process under Forever Sabah’s Communities, Coasts, Islands and Seas programme. If you’d like to know more about our work, do message us on Facebook.


Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES): Babagon Dam Pilot Project

By Cassandra Albanus, 18 December 2016

It was a slightly wet Sunday morning on the 6th of November when a team of FS coordinators made our way up to Kampung Babagon Toki. It was a good thing we brought our sturdy 4x4s as parts of the road were unsealed and it had been raining all morning, but in the end we made it to a cosy Dewan.

57% of Kota Kinabalu city’s water supply comes from the Babagon Dam. (Picture taken from Kampung Babagon Toki)

We met with the communities from the villages of Kampung Babagon Toki, Kampung Kolosunan and Kampung Tampasak to present, and seek consent and input for a potential Babagon Dam Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) pilot project. These villages are the closest to Babagon Dam, which provides 57% of Kota Kinabalu city’s water supply.

Linggit explaining the good and bad of PES. All voices are heard and all questions are answered.

There was much to discuss during the day long gather – what activities do the communities want to run? Who is going to be in charge? How will we execute them together? Is everyone willing to work hard? And the burning question – can and will everyone work together?

We are always multitasking. Who says you can’t present and eat at the same time?

In additon, we took time to listen to the communities so they could ask questions, share their concerns and make recommendations. Throughout the discussion, it was clear that the project would be challenging, but after four intense hours (with the support of a lot of good food and coffee), all three communities agreed to participate and asked FS to begin the process of preparing a project concept paper.

6pm and everyone is still smiling!

Since then, we have met with the communities from the three villages again to present the draft of the PES concept paper to further incorporate their input. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this pilot project through our Facebook page and website. If you’d like to know more about our work, do message us on Facebook.