WWF Network Meeting in the Heart of Borneo
Recently, WWF-Malaysia hosted a five-day hydropower and dam meeting from 15 – 19 May 2013. The first day held in Kuching continued with moments where meeting met nature by the Batang Ai River.
The meeting on sustainable hydropower and dam development was attended by 22 WWF-Malaysia and international staff. A site visit to BAHEP was organised for the participants to learn about the existing hydropower dam in the area. Participants were briefed by the dam developer Sarawak Energy Berhad, on the history, operation and management of BAHEP.
Each of the participants shared current hydropower and dam related projects in their countries including river basin management. Besides the sharing sessions, there were also sessions on water and energy discussions, introduction to water security toolbox, tools and approaches to address freshwater-energy-conservation particularly on High Conservation Value or Priority Conservation Areas mapping, and tools and approaches to address freshwater-energy-conservation (Biodiversity Offsets).
Apart from the five days intensive discussion, the participants also had a wonderful time exploring nature and experiencing the ecotourism services provided by the local community such as the traditional longboat ride, accommodation in Nanga Delok – a traditional Iban longhouse, and being feted with jungle food at meal times.
The community residing in Batang Ai are Iban. There are still many of them living in longhouses along the main rivers and smaller streams in the interior of Borneo. They rely on the rivers for transportation, protein supply, drinking water and other daily chores.
Batang Ai was an interesting venue for the meeting – giving participants the opportunity to see first-hand intersection of economic development, environmental conservation and community sustainable livelihood efforts.