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BEST Society: Educating Tomorrow's Community Leaders in the Rainforests of Kinabatangan
By Melissa Lim
The quality of life of our future generation lies in our actions today. Borneo Eco Tours, through its work with the Borneo Ecotourism Solutions & Technologies (BEST) Society, has always put effort in not just promoting the conservation of Sabah's mega biodiversity to tourists, but also in nurturing the young generation of the "River people" (Orang Sungai) of Kinabatangan emphasizing the importance of forest-regeneration and its impact on the biodiversity of flora and fauna in the Kinabatangan flood plan.
Planting the Seeds
BEST Society has been actively engaged in tree planting initiatives since the inception of the project, Kinabatangan Wildlife Corridor Regeneration Program (KWICORP) in 2000. The project aims to regenerate forest in one of the many 'gaps' on the riparian forest reserve left behind from the heydays of logging and commercial palm oil plantations along the Kinabatangan River. Various educational efforts and awareness-raising campaigns were consistently channeled in order to prevent deforestation of Kinabatangan.
Since established, Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge have contributed over 180,000 MYR (approx. 60,250 USD) and 125,400 MYR (approx. 41,600 USD) respectively to support BEST Society’s environmental awareness campaigns. Part of the fund was used to purchase seedlings from the local indigenous people in Sukau to help generate income and employment opportunities locally.
Fun Learning for the Youngsters
BEST Society has worked closely with local schools and youth groups to support environmental education for children. For example, this past June, in conjunction with the annual World Environmental Day celebrations, BEST Society, together with Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge collaborated with the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) Kinabatangan, an agency endorsed by the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, to organize a half-day Tree Planting and Environmental Education Program involving 20 future school children and three teachers from Sukau Primary School.
The participants joined an interactive session on biodegradable food waste management, river cleaning activities along Kinabatangan River, guided nature walk and tree planting at a KWICORP tree-planting site. To support these programs, EAC Kinabatangan contributed 100 seedlings and soil to BEST Society for its effort. As the local saying "To bend a bamboo, while it is still a shoot," children have an amazing ability to learn and absorb fast from fun learning experience while they are young. Our educational technique reflects the philosophy of: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
As a result, the students will also be able to spread their knowledge and experience to their peers and family at home. We hope that these young leaders of Kinabatangan can inspire others in their community to take action towards the sustainability of their local environment.
More about BEST Society
BEST Society is a non-profit organization funded by Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Over the decade, BEST Society has been focusing on environmental conservation programs and capacity building of local communities in rural areas of Sabah, north Borneo. BEST Society’s main objectives include promoting a sustainable tourism concept which creates employment and nurtures social entrepreneurship skills for the local community. For more details please contact info[at]bestsociety.org or visit: www.bestsociety.org.
The livelihood of river people very much rely on Kinabatangan River
Ms Anzella From EAC demonstrating composting process
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Manager Donnie lends a helping hand to one of the participants
About the Author: Melissa Lim
The clinging sense of affection for eco-tourism inspired Sabah-Borneo born Melissa to pursue a local nature guide course. She obtained her green badge license in 2011, but what really excites her is the opportunity to put into writing her mesmerizing journeys to the interior of Sabah in her blog. Under the guidance of eco-tourism expert Mr. Albert Teo (founder, Borneo Eco Tours), she is on a mission to strengthen public awareness about local community development by highlighting the richness of Malaysian Borneo’s flora and fauna, as well as its colorful culture.