By Michael Evans, Moving Mountains Coordinator
Moving Mountains Trust is delighted and honoured to have been selected as a supported charity by the IAS 2013 conference!
Moving Mountains is a small and dynamic NGO committed to long-term sustainable development. We work in Kenya, Nepal and Borneo with some of the most disadvantaged children, young people, families and communities in the developing world. The project won the AITO 'Roger Diski Community Project Award' in 2012.
Donations to Moving Mountains through the carbon offset programme from delegates who attend the 2013 conference will support our work in Borneo, protecting and enriching the Sarawak rainforest in partnership with indigenous Penan communities.
We have been working with these rainforest communities since 2010, implementing a tree planting and sustainable community development programme which has been very successful to date. We initially helped two Penan communities to establish a village cooperative named KOPPES and to initiate a tree planting programme to reforest areas of the rainforest which have been damaged by large-scale logging activities and by fires caused by extreme weather phenomena.
Since the project began, a further three Penan communities have joined the cooperative. We have established tree nurseries which are managed by the communities and together we are planting around 10,000 native hardwood trees per year (Kapor, Meranti and other Shorea species) in damaged and cleared areas of the forest. Seeds are collected by community members from the rainforest during fruiting and planted in the three nurseries.
All of this work is undertaken by the Penan communities who gain an income from the project. This income also provides an alternative to employment offered by the logging companies, whose actions are strongly opposed by the Penan people, and helps to ensure that the communities can remain on their traditional lands. A small proportion of new trees planted also provide a source of wood for the communities to use, ensuring that the existing magnificent ancient foreston their land can be preserved.
The indigenous Penan people have lived in harmony with the Sarawak rainforest for thousands of years and the project utilizes their knowledge of and deep connection with the rainforest. Over recent decades they have seen the forest come under increasingly severe threat, and in many areas decimated by mass logging and palm oil plantations, with profound consequences on their traditional way of life in harmony with the forest. The project is assisting the Penan communities to protect their traditional lands and human rights, their rich cultural heritage and way of life, and to protect the Sarawak rainforest, an area which furthermore is extremely rich in biodiversity and rare fauna and flora.
The tree planting programme also attracts international visitors and volunteers to the communities as part of a small scale eco-tourism initiative run through the cooperative, bringing additional income to the communities and helping to maintain their financial viability. Attraction of international visitors to the communities helps to raise awareness of deforestation, sustainable forest management and the Penan struggle to protect the rainforest.
Read an interview with Moving Mountains founder and chairman Gavin Bate on our work in Borneo here. On behalf of the Penan communities in Sarawak, a sincere thank you for supporting the work of KOPPES and Moving Mountains to protect the rainforest.