The remote and isolated 35,400ha Sungai Medihit Watershed in UluLimbang Division, Sarawak, MALAYSIA is home to two ethnic communities, Kelabit and Penan, who subsist in a state of poverty on shifting agriculture and resources collected from the increasingly disturbed surrounding forests. The Kelabits were the first inhabitants of the Sungai Medihit catchment.
The Kelabits and Penans have been living along one another for many years. Both communities are subsistence farmers and practice shifting agriculture. Large scale wet paddy farming is unsuitable in the area due to lack of flatlands. To improve forest management and livelihood of the local communities, the local community proposed a project of Community Based Sustainable Forest Management of Sungai Medihit Watershed, Sarawak, which consists of two components, i.e. “sustainable Watershed Forestry Management (WSM)” and “Community Sustainable Development (CSD)”. The WSM component includes: (1) Baseline survey on forest resources, biodiversity, traditional culture and social economic; (2) Develop two forest management plans at the community level; (3) Carry out demonstration activities on sustainable forest management; (4) Constructs community-based forest management platform and mechanism. The CSD component will be combined by community Alternative livelihoods project and village level infrastructure construction to improve the sustainability of local communities and forest management. The community Alternative livelihood projects are: 1) demonstrating the small livestock raising project to ease the threat of hunting to wildlife; 2) demonstrating the household vegetable cropping to tackle the shortage supply of the vegetables; 3) demonstrating the innovative cultivation approaches to generate the economic benefit flow for the community.
The goal of the Project is to promote the sustainable forest management in Sungai Medihit watershed area by building the capacity of the community, demonstrating innovative operational model and establishing new governance mechanism on community development. Specifically the project will promote the sustainable forest management by rational planning, technique innovation and mechanism design; enhance the capacity of the community on forest management and livelihood development to contribute sustainable development of local communities; and better the living conditions by renovating the community service infrastructure.