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Malaysia

Kolosunan Village

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Conservation benefit: 4,032-acre watershed catchment area for 15 years

Community benefit: Swiftlet hut to provide sustainable income

Date Approved: 02.2019

Forest

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

Borneo, the world’s third biggest island, is one of the most biodiverse and verdant places on earth. It is home to thousands of plant and animal species, including the orangutan, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, and clouded leopard. But big logging and oil palm interests have destroyed huge amounts of habitat.

The indigenous village of Kolosunan has agreed to protect a large amount of land in the mountains of Borneo. The area is home to an endangered fish and Southeast Asia’s biggest dragonfly species, which has a wingspan up to 6½ inches.

Financial pressure often leads villages to sell rights to their forests. People in Kolosunan have few ways to earn money except by farming, which is limited by the terrain. So many villagers work in the coastal capital city, Kota Kinabalu, returning to the village on weekends. Young leaders in Kolosunan have been looking for sources of sustainable revenue for community members.

The community, working with the local nonprofit PACOS Trust, requested a Seacology grant for a birds-nest project. They will put up a small building to attract native birds called swiftlets, whose nests are much in demand for making birds’ nest soup. This part of Borneo is naturally rich in swiftlets, and collecting the nests (after the young birds have fledged) and selling them is traditional there. This initiative is inexpensive, simple, and should provide a return fairly quickly. Seacology funded another birds’ nest project, in Dagat, Malaysia, which is proceeding well.

Project Updates

June 2020

Community members have put up the walls and roof of the swiflet hut.

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December 2019

This project is moving slowly—ironically, because of the community’s commitment to the environment. The village is working on a PES (payment for ecosystem services) system that will bring them compensation for preserving the local environment. Setting up the system has taken key community members away from their work for significant amounts of time.

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