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Long Lawen Village


Conservation benefit: Protection of 15,236 acres of forest for 15 years; reduction in diesel pollution

Community benefit: Micro-hydro energy system

Date Approved: 07.2001


This project promotes sustainable energy production, helping reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and slowing global warming.


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The village of Long Lawen is located in Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is home to the oldest, most biologically diverse tropical rainforests on earth. The community of Long Lawen has committed to protecting a large area of forest near the village.

Like many remote island villages, Long Lawen depends primarily on diesel generators to provide electricity. Diesel fuel is expensive and noisy; it pollutes the air and is extremely inconvenient to obtain.

Seacology has provided funding to the Borneo Project, in cooperation with the nonprofit Green Empowerment, so Long Lawen can use micro-hydro technology. Micro-hydro generates electricity by harnessing the power of small streams that have significant vertical drop. Because the equipment is small-scale, it produces electricity without harming the environment. The Long Lawen turbine generates 12 kilowatts of electricity 24 hours a day. That is enough to light a school and a local clinic, and to power a refrigerator for medicines. It will save the community thousands of dollars each year in diesel fuel costs and will serve as a model for other villages.

Project Updates

June 2023

The project lead, who is now working in a neighboring remote community, is committed to delivering the signs soon.

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February 2023

The signs to warn loggers away from the protected forest–first supposed to be delivered in January 2020–are not there yet. Road closures and strict Covid lockdowns made delivery impossible, and heavy rains caused two landslides that have blocked the road since November. The community is hoping to get the signs soon.

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June 2021

The Malaysian government is restricting travel within the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When the rules ease, the signs will be delivered.

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February 2021

The bridge remained closed until late October 2020. It is now open, and the signs will be transported and installed in February 2021, if the government allows travel in Sarawak then.

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June 2020

There has been another delay in the delivery of signs to demarcate the protected forest area. An overweight truck broke a major bridge, blocking all road access to the village. The community hopes the bridge will be repaired soon and that the signs, which are sitting in the nearby city of Miri, will be delivered.

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February 2020

The road to the village is still impassible. The plan is to send the signs to the village so they can be put up in late February.

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December 2019

Field representative Chris Wright, who visited Long Lawen this year and rekindled the connection with Seacology, reports that the micro-hydro generator is intact and the forest is “fiercely protected.” Seacology approved a small grant so the village could buy and install signs to warn people away from going into the protected forest, which the village headman believed would stop encroachment from loggers and people from neighboring communities. The signs were scheduled to be delivered in December, but heavy rains made the roads impassable. The new plan is for January delivery.

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March 2015

According to Gabriel Wynn, Green Empowerment’s Borneo program manager, as of last year the micro-hydro installation in Long Lawen “continues to be one of the best examples of community management, as they have kept it running without having to replace any of the turbine components for almost a decade… Their watershed is also in good condition.”

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July 2004

The micro-hydro system continues to provide clean, quiet and renewable electricity for lights, small appliances and agricultural processing for the villagers of Long Lawen. The system is in solid repair and operating at full capacity. The villagers have learned how to perform the day-to-day operations, maintenance and repairs to the system, ensuring its continued success. The local government has accepted and registered the community’s plan to prevent logging in the watershed above the system intake.

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