FORMADAT’s Trans-boundary Annual Meeting in Bario plants a future for a Sustainable Homeland in the Heart of Borneo
On the July 25th 2012 in Bario, Miri, YBhg Pemanca Philip Lakai, Paramount Chief of the Kelabit officiated the 7th FORMADAT Trans-boundary Annual Meeting.
FORMADAT is an Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo. The alliance is a trans-boundary, grass-roots initiative started by the indigenous peoples in the Highlands in the Heart of Borneo (HoB), which include the Lun Dayeh/ Lun Bawang, Sa’ban and Kelabit.
This year, the meeting was organised in conjunction with Bario’s annual Slow Food Festival, where FORMADAT celebrated with their local members its vision and heritage for their homeland.
Mr. Lewi Gala Paru, Head of Indonesia FORMADAT outlined the vision for a sustainable future for Borneo. “We, the Indigenous People of the Highlands in the HoB, who share a common heritage and a common land as the Lun Dayeh, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, and Sa’ban people, come together in the Alliance of the Indigenous People of the Highlands of Borneo (FORMADAT) to: increase awareness and understanding about the highland communities, build local capacity and encourage sustainable development in the HoB”.
The highlands of Borneo comprise the Malaysian sub districts of Bario, Ba’kelalan and Long Semadoh in Sarawak, Long Pasia in Sabah, and the Indonesian sub districts of Krayan and Krayan Selatan in East Kalimantan. This area constitutes one geographical, environmental and cultural land in The Heart of Borneo, which is one of the few remaining places in South East Asia that still holds huge tracts of tropical rainforest.
Penghulu George Sigar, Head of Malaysia FORMADAT, said: “We established FORMADAT in October 2004 as an indigenous organization to facilitate and share information, as well as to discuss common issues and strategies with regard to the future of the highlands. Our missions are to create awareness and understanding about the highland communities, maintain our cultural traditions, build local capacity and encourage sustainable development in the Highlands in the HoB, by protecting our natural resources and traditional knowledge. Our organization has been registered in Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, and Kalimantan in Indonesia. WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia has been our partner in helping us on conservation, livelihood and capacity building. We look forward to welcome more partnerships with the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia and other organization to support our initiatives towards achieving our sustainable conservation goals in the HoB”.
In conjunction with WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia in Bario, FORMADAT planted trees as part of the conservation activities. This year’s tree planting program was leaded by Y.B Dato Henry Sum Agong, Lawas Parliamentarian, and YBhg Datu Ose Murang, Deputy State Secretary of Sarawak.
Launched last year by YB Senator Dato Sri Idris Jala, the tree planting program has planted more than 3,000 local species trees such as Meranti, Agatis and many more.
Cr. John Tarawe, FORMADAT Coordinator in the Kelabit highland stated: “We, the FORMADAT, are actively promoting awareness on conservation and global warming. In some of our small ways, we promote tree planting and we hope the rest of the world will also do the same. And if everybody do the same, we believe that we’ll have a friendlier planet. We hope to promote ‘one visitor, one tree’ to all the areas in the Heart of Borneo. We love our homeland and want to sustain it”.
Dr Henry Chan, WWF-Malaysia’s Head of Conservation for Sarawak Programme said: “The tree planting activity symbolises a continuation of life. As the seedling mature and bear fruit, I hope FORMADAT will also be able to help the members achieve a sustainable future”.