Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge, and he...
Dec 16, 2013

A Base for Outreach for the Ulu Papar People

The design of the Centre
The design of the Centre

Over the past few months, emotions have been running high among the Ulu Papar community as news of plans to build the Kaiduan Dam once again reared its ugly head. For those new to the scene, the proposed project, as outlined in earlier terms, severely threatens several of the Ulu Papar villages by essentially putting them under water. Should the plans proceed, the community would be forced to move. In 2009, the people of Ulu Papar united in a fierce fight to voice their opposition to the project, stating that no amount of compensation would make up for the loss of their homes and ancestral lands should their villages end up submerged.

Their fighting spirit clearly has not faded. The community, once again, is proving that they are up for the challenge to protect their homeland. Through the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, their protests are widely witnessed, both through physical presence (community members blocking access to their villages after hearing of plans by project consultants to survey the area) and online (actively creating awareness through the Save Ulu Papar Facebook page).

It is with this at the top of our mind that we hope the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre in Buayan, a communally owned and managed resource centre, will serve its original plans, as a:

  1. Focal point for community-driven activities to plan and manage access and use of resources needed for daily subsistence, such as medicinal plants, food plants, hunted animals, freshwater resources, construction and craft materials;
  2. Training base for community environmental education and outreach activities to all Ulu Papar villages to enhance community capacity to protect the ecological integrity of the Ulu Papar water catchment area;
  3. Place to foster transparent and accountable community-driven operations to build community capacity in resource use planning and management that enables the sourcing of future funding opportunities; and
  4. Headquarters to strengthen local community capacity to meaningfully and effectively engage in decision-making, management and policy on land use planning in the Ulu Papar area, including areas designated as community use, buffer and transitional zones to the Crocker Range Park and the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve.

What does this mean, exactly?

Putting it simply, this means the Ulu Papar community can use the Centre to promote the biocultural significance of Ulu Papar. Research results obtained through collaborative initiatives between the community and both government and non-government agencies clearly define the inextricable links the Ulu Papar community have with their environment. Links that define their culture and traditions; links that should never be broken.

Progress, to date.

The construction of the community centre has progressed well over the past month, heightened by the arrival of a group of energetic young Malaysian volunteers earlier this month (read Tom’s latest blog on Buayan Work Week). Work on site continues.

As part of the outreach microprojects developed earlier, community researchers are currently converting historical stories told by Ulu Papar’s elders into exhibition materials that will feature prominently at the Centre.

Descriptions of Photos

The design of the Centre: Exhibition, performance and meeting spaces are available to carry out outreach programmes. 

The 3D model of Ulu Papar: Created through community participatory research techniques, the 3D model of Ulu Papar shows the location of sacred and other important sites in Ulu Papar. 

The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village is derived from a legendary female warrior during long ago wars. The stone is protected by the Ulu Papar people due to its cultural and historical significance.


The 3D model of Ulu Papar
The 3D model of Ulu Papar
The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village
The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village

Links:

Dec 3, 2013

Exciting Updates on our GESA Website

2012 Alumnus returns as resource person in 2013
2012 Alumnus returns as resource person in 2013

1 December 2013 marks the halfway point in our application period for the Global Environments Summer Academy 2014. We are pleased to report over 1,700 unique visits to our online application form, and we have received over 100 applications from 44 countries. The pace of submissions is set to quicken as the holiday season begins, and as the 15 January deadline approaches.

While we are receiving and evaluating the applications, we are expanding and updating the Global Environments website. There is a new page on GESA alumni achievements, featuring stories on Girma Kelboro Mensuro (Ethiopia), Katie Kamelamela (Hawai’i) and Aysen Eren (Turkey), with many more to come. Also under the Alumni section, we have an overview of all the projects funded through our innovation fund, ranging from a community-run training farm in Nigeria proposed by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Nigeria) and Marie Wilke (Germany) to a recently-launched wellbeing initiative led by GESA 2013 alums Kaylena Bray (USA), Vanessa Reid (UK) and Yuki Yoshida (Japan).

We added a new section on the Global Environments Network, with an overview and pages on Community Exchanges and Regional Academies.  We have posted an initial description of the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE), which took place in October in Capay Valley, California. You can find short descriptions of the first two regional academies, which are proposed for Central Asia and East Africa.

Our Facebook page has now surpassed 1000 likes, and we are posting images from GESA 2013 and NACELE, as well as updates about GESA alumni and resource people.

With the launch of our GlobalGiving campaign on Cyber Monday, 2 December, we are now looking forward to providing additional updates as our countdown to GESA 2014 continues.

 

Photo captions (elaborated):

  1. 2012 Alumnus Dr. Girma Kelboro Mensuro (Ethiopia) returned to GESA 2013 as a resource person to share his expertise on governing protected areas.
  2. Group photo of the participants of the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE)
  3. Bill C. McDonald, a Chamoru farmer from Guam, at the first harvest day of the Native Foodways Ethnobotany Garden, part of NACELE.
Group photo of the participants of NACELE
Group photo of the participants of NACELE
Native Foodways Ethnobotany Garden, part of NACELE
Native Foodways Ethnobotany Garden, part of NACELE

Links:

Nov 18, 2013

My Experience in Buayan

Treating bamboo
Treating bamboo

Last month, I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a few days in the beautiful, remote village of Buayan. I set off on the 2-hour road trip with Ching, an Arkitrek volunteer, both of us putting our trust in James, who skilfully manoeuvred his 4WD along the muddy, gravel road, and landed us safely in Buayan. With the back of the car packed with building supplies, we were greeted by Tom, who continued on in Buayan even after the departure of the rest of his team of Arkitrekkers to push for the completion of the community bio-cultural centre the team co-designed and built with the community.

I pitched in to help. It was my first experience in ‘construction’, and I have to say that I have a renewed appreciation and admiration for the Ulu Papar community and the group of Arkitrekkers who have worked so hard to get the Centre to where it is today. I was completely exhausted at the end of each day from the physical effort it took to paint timber frames and cut bamboo; I cannot even begin to imagine carrying 12-foot long bamboo the half-mile from the river!

While basic creature comforts are all available in Buayan (including satellite dishes marking the existence of cable TV in some of the houses), one quickly gets used to the Buayan way of life, a life independent of much of the modern technology we are all so accustomed to. It is a life that puts relationships with family and friends first and foremost; a life that depends on the rich resources of the area to stay vital.

Communication with the outside world is possible via mobile phones, but only if one stands at specific ‘spots’ and holds very still so that the connection does not get cut off. My addiction to being glued to a smartphone was replaced by total serenity during my time in Buayan.

The Buayan lifestyle, and that of those living in the other villages that make up Ulu Papar, is one that many will never experience, even those of us living within the boundaries of Borneo. As I listened to the passionate words of my host mother, Angela, describing her love for Buayan, I deeply understood the implacable objections that the Ulu Papar community have towards the planned development of the Kaiduan Dam. The proposed megadam would flood and displace most Ulu Papar residents, unmaking communities whose lifestyles and traditions are completely meshed with the place they have called home for so long.

Descriptions of photos

Treating bamboo: Treating the bamboo that was cut and carried from the riverside by the community. Tom and Ching fill the bamboo with Timbor to prevent the bamboo from rotting. 

The roof goes up: Tom works with Alex, a skilled roofer from Buayan, to set the sustainable roofing materials (onduline) in place.

Traditional cooking hearth: Our host mother Angela’s kitchen; using firewood to boil water. (Photo by Ching)

Local vegetables: The vegetables prepared during our stay were either grown in the garden, or harvested from the forest nearby. (Photo by Ching)

The Crocker Range: The scenic view of the Crocker Range during our journey to Buayan. (Photo taken by Ching)

Treating bamboo
Treating bamboo
The roof goes up
The roof goes up
Traditional cooking hearth
Traditional cooking hearth
Local vegetables
Local vegetables
The Crocker Range
The Crocker Range

Links:

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