Protecting the Malaysian Rainforest
The third largest island in the world, Borneo is politically divided between Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. In the northern half, the Malaysian state of Sarawak harbors extensive rainforests. Recently, however, many of these forests have been threatened by logging and tree and palm oil plantations. Malaysia is currently losing rainforest faster than any other nation in Asia, with the rate of deforestation increasing by a staggering 86% in recent years.
In the mountainous region of Belaga, Seacology is funding a project to ensure the protection of Malaysian forest. Belaga's Kenyah community is one of the last indigenous tribes that still depend of natural resources for their livelihood. The village of Mudung Abun, which means "Cloud Mountain" in the Kenyah language, lies in the Belagan mountains, and is home to a small community of hill paddy farmers.
With the support of local NGO partners, Seacology is collaborating with the community of Mudung Abun to construct a micro-hydro energy system. The system will harness the kinetic energy of a local stream to activate a generator and produce electricity. The energy from this system will provide electricity for the village's homes, community center, a women's cooperative shop, food processing center, and blacksmithing and welding workshops. It will also replace the diesel fuels currently used to power several generators and rice-milling machines, which are polluting and expensive. Switching to renewable power is expected to save the Mudung Abun community over $275,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over its lifespan.
In the spirit of community, Mudung Abun villagers have been collaborating to construct their new electrical system. Having cleared a trail to the stream, they are installing the pipes and erecting the weir (or dam) and forebay (area for holding water). The NGOs have also held workshops to educate the community about conservation and sustainable use of resources as well as the construction and benefits of the water system.
In exchange for Seacology's support of their micro-hydro system, Mudung Abun is setting aside a 1,236-acre area of watershed, guarding it against cultivation, logging, road construction, and other development. With this project, Seacology will be adding to the small but growing number of protected rainforest acreage in Malaysia. Stay tuned for news and pictures from the completed water system!