KUCHING: A five-year research on riverine societies along Tatau and Kemena Rivers is expected to improve the socio-economic status of the local people
Launched in 2010, a team of over 10 Japanese natural and social scientists undertaking the project will produce their final reports to Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) as references for future plans.
Key leader of the research squad Prof Dr Noboru Ishikawa said their studies would lead to better understanding on transformation from traditional natural economies to agriculture plantations of rubber, pepper and oil palm.
He was speaking at a news conference after SFC chief executive officer and managing director Ali Yusop opened a one-day seminar ‘Human Nature Interactions of the Riverine Societies in Sarawak – A Transdisciplinary Approach’ at a hotel here yesterday.
The seminar was jointly organised by Kyoto University, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and SFC while the five-year research is funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Ministry of Education Japan.
Ishikawa, who is from the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, however, said the team had not come up with a projection on improvement of the standard of living.
He added that such details would emerge only at a later stage of the research.
Recalling his boat trips along the two rivers, Ishikawa said “it is far from Kuching to Bintulu” and further into remote areas, but the researchers found the journey challenging and worthwhile.”
Earlier, Ali pointed out that the end results of the research would serve as an input to bring about sustainable development in the state.
“It is a research on human-nature interactions in villages along the rivers. The seminar today is to present interim findings of the studies, identify the gaps to be improved along the way.”
In his opening speech, Ali said most settlements in the state begun from small homesteads that sprung along the major river courses.
These communities relied on the forests for their livelihood where they sourced for building materials, collected jungle produce and hunted wildlife for subsistence protein, he said.
“Historically, rivers have been the important feature that mapped the transformation of communities in Sarawak. Our quest for knowledge about our forest is a dynamic and on-going process.
“We need to understand the need to improve forests conditions for wildlife continued existence or to manage them to be sustainably and economically viable for the state,” Ali said.
As a custodian of the forests of Sarawak, Ali said the corporation would safeguard and manage forests for the betterment of society and future generations.
“We do not own this land, we borrow it from our future generations,” he added.
He pledged that the government would continue to promote good forestry practices through sustainable forest management.
“SFC is committed to acting responsibly to ensure that the forestry industry in Sarawak is managed in a sustainable manner in accordance with international standards,” he said.