MoU on Heart of Borneo signed

KUCHING: The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia, WWF-Indonesia and the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo (Formadat) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to forge a stronger and more formal partnership on community engagement in the Heart of Borneo (HoB).

Sealed last Wednesday, the MoU is part of a new approach to widen coalitions and collaborations with civil society for conservation.

Signing for WWF were WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma and WWF-Indonesia chief executive officer Dr Efransjah; while Formadat was represented by its chief for Malaysia Penghulu Sigar Sultan, chief for Indonesia Lewi Gala Paru and advisor Ricky Ganang.

“We hope this is the first of several partnerships and formal collaborations with local organisations all along the border between Malaysia and Indonesia in the HoB,” said Sharma on behalf of WWF.

Under the MoU, the organisations will collaborate to encourage conservation and sustainable development in the Kelabit and Maligan Highlands (Sarawak) and Krayan (Kalimantan), and help realise a sustainable future in the HoB, said a media statement yesterday.

Initiatives by Formadat, which are supported by WWF include enhancing sustainable agricultural practices, promotion of local products, and trans-border and community-based ecotourism.

They also include helping to establish fair trading networks across the border to provide the local communities with better market access that promotes sustainability.

With WWF’s support, Formadat will continue to work towards the conservation of water sources, riverbanks and community forests, protection of cultural historical sites, and protection of collective intellectual property rights of the indigenous peoples of the highlands.

The focus of the collaboration is in line with the green economy vision of the HoB Initiative, which aims to transform economic practices by valuing natural capital and enhancing benefits for those whose livelihoods depend on natural resources.

These are to be achieved through support to local communities and the development of local green economic activities such as smallholder premium agriculture, responsible ecotourism, and sustainable nature resource management and environmental protection.

In 2004, WWF-Indonesia started to support and collaborate with Formadat.

In 2008, WWF-Malaysia, with the establishment of the Sarawak office, initiated its support by developing a community engagement programme within the HoB.

Formadat’s vision supports the sustainable use of forest and protection of the environment in the highlands, their common homeland.

It aspires sustainable development to be centred around community-based ecotourism, organic farming and agro-forestry, and access to information technology.

The aim is to increase and understand about the communities in the highlands, maintain cultural traditions, build local capacity, and encourage sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo without risking the degradation of the quality of the social and natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

While a trans-border organisation, Formadat is registered according to state laws as: Formadat Sarawak and Formadat Sabah in Malaysia, and Formadat Indonesia.

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