Swiss city to sponsor Sarawak forest conservation project

A visitor is seen taking a photograph at a waterfall which is located within the proposed Upper Baram Forest Area project site.

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KUCHING, July 6: The Swiss Canton of Basel-Stadt (City of Basel) in Switzerland has announced a contribution of USD 200,000 to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)’s proposed Upper Baram Forest Area, a conservation and development project in the interior of Sarawak also known as “Baram Peace Park”.

Basel mayor Beat Jans, in a recent statement said the government of Basel has decided to support this project in order to sustain the livelihoods of indigenous communities in the area and to honour the lifetime achievement of Bruno Manser, a Basel-born environmentalist who went missing in Sarawak in May 2000.

The ITTO project covers an area of 283,500 hectares in the upstream region of the Baram river system and will benefit 24 indigenous communities – the Penan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Saban – living in the area.

It consists of a core zone of 79,000 hectares of primary forest, a buffer zone of secondary forest and an agricultural zone which has been traditionally used by the communities for paddy cultivation.

The project proposal has been drafted in close cooperation with community representatives who have fought for the conservation of their forests and the sustainable development of their communities for 30 years.

At the same time, a Swiss non-governmental organisation (NGO) Bruno Manser Fonds is also contributing another USD 200,000 to the ITTO project.

“We welcome the city of Basel’s support for this project. It is a milestone and will animate other donors to join in and make this exceptional community-driven conservation project come true,” said Lukas Straumann, the executive director of the Bruno Manser Fonds.

The Upper Baram Forest Area was submitted by the Malaysian government to ITTO and approved by the 56th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council in November 2020.

The total budget of the project is USD 2 million. Malaysia is covering USD 1.2 million leaving the remaining USD 800,000 to be funded internationally. — DayakDaily