WWF Malaysia 40th Anniversary – Fostering Sustainable Conservation among Future Leaders
Ba Kelalan lies smack in the middle of an area covering three countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei - signatories to the Heart of Borneo Trilateral Declaration. Located at the edge of north-east Sarawak, it is nestled in a narrow valley surrounded by high mountain ranges which form the source of major rivers flowing into the South China and Celebes seas.
The celebration at Ba Kelalan symbolized WWF-Malaysia’s commitment to WWF’s international network’s Global Priority Areas. Borneo is one of the 35 priority site selected from areas of high conservation value to humanity.
The Lun Bawang people in Ba Kelalan is a resilient community who embodies the organisation’s raison d-etŕe:
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature
The Lun Bawang’s livelihood, customs and tradition are based on a sustainable farming system using gravity-feed water from surrounding rivers to irrigate their rice fields. They protected the environment from logging and successfully lobbied for the government to protect their entire watershed forest. An outcome of the resilience, the pristine forest surrounding the valley and the terrace rice fields provide a scenic view to behold.
However, while the view of mountains and rice fields is panoramic, rubbish litter the grounds and rivers, with sewage of some households flowing into the water system. The Ba Kelalan Primary School teachers and their students, together with their community, took active steps to counter this environmental degradation. Toward this end, the school community enrolled into Eco-Schools program, an initiative coordinated by WWF-Malaysia.
In Sarawak, there are only two schools participating in the Eco-Schools programme. The other school is SMK Batu Lintang in Kuching. Nationwide, there are 34 schools participating in the programme and more than 35,000 school througout the world. In SK Ba Kelalan, the main focus was on the river’s cleanliness where the pupils involved were given task to examine the rivers in Ba Kelalan biologically and checmically to measure their quality.
During the celebration, the students conducted a demonstration in Kelalan River for all the invited guests after the launching of the event and exhibition were held in the school. The results showed that the water quality for Kelalan River is at good state.
During the media conference, Da CEO of WWF-Malaysia Dato Dr Dionysius Sharma said, “When it comes to conservation, it’s not about education or wealth. It’s attitude of individuals. It’s hard to change attitude but it will be effective by instilling the positive attitude to the future generations from young. They are the future environmentalist.”
Sang Sigar, the coordinator teacher of Eco-Schools for SK Ba Kelalan said, “Our students learn outside the classroom with the nature. This is experimental learning, the new way for both the pupils and teachers to learn and teach by exploring the nature for themselves.”
The people of Ba Kelalan are members of a transboundary community forum called the FORMADAT. The forum aims to increase the levels of awareness and understanding on highland communities living on the borderlands of Malaysia and Indonesia. Supported by WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia, it seeks to maintain culture and tradition; build capacity and encourage sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo through community-based ecotourism and sustainable agriculture. FORMADAT’s vision represents a strategic approach to community-based and landscape sustainable management, integrating conservation and development for the benefit of local people and priority conservation landscapes.
WWF-Malaysia is proud to be associated with the school, the community and the local chapter of the FORMADAT by having their 40th anniversary celebration with them.