Help Communities in Borneo Protect their Heritage

by Global Diversity Foundation
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



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Organization Information

Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Susannah McCandless
GDF International Program Director
Bristol, Vermont United States
$9,120 raised of $10,000 goal
118 donations
$880 to go
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