The village of Long Liam sits in the “Heart of Borneo,” an area in the center of the island where rainforests are for the most part intact. These forests are some of the world’s most diverse; Borneo has about 10 times more tree species than does all of Europe. The forests are home to 10 primate species, more than 350 bird species, and 150 kinds of reptiles and amphibians. The Baram River basin, where Long Liam is located, has bearded pigs, the endemic Hose’s palm civet, and a newly discovered color-changing frog, among other distinctive species.
The community will conserve 524 acres of this invaluable forest. This will keep it from being cleared for timber or oil palm plantations. Just across the Baram River from Long Liam, both legal and illegal logging have recently increased. The community, however, has experience in protecting its forest. In 2009, the government announced plans to build an enormous dam on the Baram River, which would have flooded huge tracts of forest. Long Liam community members joined the fight against it, and the government put the plans on hold in 2015.
Long Liam is a traditional long house community. Its 200 residents, members of the indigenous Kayan subgroup, live in a single long structure—essentially, a horizontal apartment building. There is a room for each family. With a Seacology grant, the community will install a micro-hydro system to produce electricity. Families now rely on diesel generators, which are noisy, expensive, and spew pollutants into the air.
With rapidly flowing rivers and modest demands for electricity, the villages of Borneo are ideal for environmentally friendly micro-hydro projects. Seacology has already funded successful micro-hydro installations in Malaysia. The regional effort is led by Adrian (Banie) Lasimbang, who received the Seacology Prize in 2004. This project received guidance or funding from SAVE Rivers, TONIBUNG, the Bruno Manser Fund, and Green Empowerment as well as Seacology.