News Archive | Page 2 of 6 | Forever Sabah

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.


Citizen Science: Transforming River Management in Malaysian Borneo

By Cassandra Albanus, 9 December 2016

After having multiple cups of coffee (to stay awake and brave the cold) at Sabah’s International Heart of Borneo Conference, the Forever Sabah team made its way to Meeting Room 4 where the ‘Community Engagement’ talks were taking place. Informative, touching, highly entertaining and inspiring are a few words to describe the people and stories they shared.

Below are excerpts taken from written by Ken Wilson PhD, Technical Advisor to Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), a Malaysian NGO, on how citizen science is transforming river management in Malaysian Borneo.


Indigenous citizen science is not for technophobes: here villagers on the Moyog River use an affordable underwater sonar scanner donated by a sympathetic fisherman from England to assess populations on a “Tagal” section where taboos mean only “non-intrusive” sampling techniques can be used.

Casey Ng runs Forever Sabah’s “Freshwater For the Future” (FFF) program. Among other things, FFF deploys citizen science in documenting fish species so as to enable Kadazandusun villagers to monitor river water quality in the Moyog catchment of Western Sabah, and the impacts of their “Tagal” indigenous river management systems (which uses community oath-stones and taboos to manage fishing intensity in space and time). In the Moyog the issue is not oil palm: it is about maintaining forest in the face of hill cutting for construction material, rubber establishment, poorly conceived settlements, a poultry facility, waste disposal, etc.

In his presentation on the Moyog River at the Heart of Borneo conference Casey emphasized how citizen science often built off indigenous knowledge – such as where and how to catch indicator fish species – and that its power was the fact that it was driven by local questions that immediately connected people to what they value about “their own place.” Despite challenges with getting citizen science published and accepted by mainstream science, Casey described it as “relevant, practical, affordable, inclusive, and above all communicative to the stewards of local rivers.” At this point in the proceedings over 200 people from communities and government, civic organizations, universities and private companies in Sabah savored this new idea, perhaps compared it to the performance of mainstream science at solving local problems, and applauded him enthusiastically.

Casey’s presentation at the Heart of Borneo was alongside Notoruss village elder Vitalis Galasun, who, in 1994, ushered in the modern era for “Tagal” management systems when his community took a collective oath to not fish their section of the river with formal recognition for the first time from the Native Courts, local Assemblyman, Police, and ultimately the Fisheries Department. To frequent applause, Vitalis told his audience at Heart of Borneo that there are now 29 registered “Tagal” programs in the Moyog region alone (the Fisheries Department now registers about 600 state-wide on 200 rivers in 17 districts) and Vitalis welcomed current efforts to integrate citizen science with traditional knowledge in the management of these programs. Explaining this, he described how they didn’t need any measurements to be convinced how rapidly most fish stocks recovered, but that other questions remained, like why some species declined even as others expanded, and whether there were invisible pollutants getting into their rivers. This matters because, as Vitalis explains in this delightful video about the making of “bosou,” a local fish pickle, “all of the species in this river are delicious” – and fish are the main source of protein in Borneo.

Read the full article here.


Stories From The Ground: The Indigenous Tidung People

By Cassandra Albanus, 6 December 2016


The indigenous Tidung people from the Lower Segama Conservation Area are one of the eight communities Forever Sabah is engaging with in the Ramsar Community Group process. It is a long- term programme under Communities, Islands and Seas, to bring together communities, civil society and government in advancing governance towards a thriving wetland.

This short film was produced by the KOPEL media unit and Forever Sabah in collaboration with the communities in the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands with support from the GEF SGP Malaysia and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The story of Kampung Dagat was chosen at this year’s Borneo Eco Film Festival, held in Suria Sabah from 6th to 8th of October 2016.


Forever Sabah Featured at IUCN World Conservation Congress

By Holly Jonas, September 2016

The world’s oldest largest and most diverse environmental network – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – held its 6th World Conservation Congress from 1-10 September 2016 in Honolulu, Hawai’i. During the Congress, the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), the Environmental Law Centre and the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law organised a wide range of events focusing on the instrumental role of environmental law in the conservation of nature and natural resources.


Dr. Michelle Lim, Sarawakian lawyer, Co-chair of the IUCN WCEL Early Career Group and Griffith Law School Lecturer at Griffith University (Australia). Credit: Nick Bryner / IUCN WCEL.


One such event – entitled “Emerging Leaders and the Future of Environmental Law” – was hosted by the University of Hawai’i’s William S. Richardson School of Law and the IUCN WCEL Early Career Group on 2 September. This interactive event included presentations by 9 ‘emerging environmental law experts’ and a ‘speed dating’ idea incubator in which participants identified key challenges and potential ways forward for the future of environmental law.

As part of the round of presentations, Holly Jonas (Legal Innovation Programme Coordinator, Forever Sabah) spoke about the nature of laws (as they currently stand in most countries) as incompatible with the laws of nature. She proposed the concept of ‘circular law’ as the basis for a fundamentally different approach to the law – one that is non-linear, inclusive and regenerative and necessarily supports pluralism, complexity and connectivity.

Other presenters considered topics such as the rule of law, Indigenous and customary law, earth jurisprudence, and climate change and renewable energy.

In addition to University of Hawai’i students, a number of eminent judges and lawyers attended the event, including Hon. Antonio Benjamin (Chair of WCEL and Justice of the National High Court of Brazil), Professor Nilufer Oral (Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law) and Professor Nicholas Robinson (founder of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and University Professor on the Environment at Pace Law School). For more information, please contact Holly Jonas (holly (at)