Book depicting the Penan’s close relationship with nature launched

Hamden (fourth from left) and Chan show two pages of the coffee-table book at its launch. Basiuk is on the right.

KUCHING, August 2: ‘The Kuba’an-Puak Story: Journey towards a green corridor’, a coffee-table book depicting the Penan’s close relationship with nature and their contributions towards sustainable forest management, was launched today.

The 159-page book, jointly published by Sarawak Forestry Department and WWF-Malaysia with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, features stories from Kuba’an-Puak — home to the indigenous people.

Sarawak Forestry director Hamden Mohammad unveiled the book on the sidelines of the 18th Malaysian Forestry Conference at a hotel here.

He told those present that the stories conveyed the Penan’s special relationship with nature, their traditional knowledge, wisdom and oral history, as well as their hopes and concerns about forest management alongside other stakeholders towards a green corridor in the Heart of Borneo (HoB).

“The coffee-table book contains images from the field and excerpts from the communities themselves,” he said at the book launch.

WWF-Malaysia’s Board of Trustees member Robert Basiuk and conservation director Dr Henry Chan were present.

Hamden said the Forestry Department, along with WWF-Malaysia, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Community Information and Communications Centre took on the Kuba’an-Puak Forest Management Unit (FMU) as a pilot project to explore and develop a sustainable forest management model in the state.

He thanked the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture for funding the project, which promotes sustainable forest management.

“The journey began in 2011 when Sarawak identified a forest management unit located between Kuba’an River and Puak River, hereafter called Kuba’an-Puak FMU, to field test against the high conservation values forest (HCVF) toolkit that has been developed for Malaysian conditions.

“The area also forms an important linkage between three major protected areas in Sarawak, namely Gunung Mulu, Gunung Buda and Pulong Tau national parks,” explained Hamden.

He said the Kuba’an-Puak FMU became the model for HCV field testing, and the local communities, notable the Penan, were actively engaged and involved in its assessment.

The book also documents the importance of commitments from other stakeholders, including the government, private sector and civil societies in pushing Sarawak towards adopting a more sustainable way of managing their forests.

“We hope that through this coffee-table book, people can see the importance of our forests and how we can and should be managing them sustainably. The forests in Kuba’an-Puak are not only for the Penans and people of Sarawak; what we do will benefit and create a positive influence for the international communities,” Hamden said.

The Kuba’an-Puak project area spans about 360,000ha, covering multiple FMUs between Mulu National Park and Pulong Tau National Park, which is part of the HoB initiative.

The book is sold for RM150 per copy at the WWF-Malaysia’s Kuching office in Bangunan Binamas, Padungan. It is also available at its headquarters at PJS 5/28A, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It is available from mid-August. For more information, email — DayakDaily