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‘Very sweet thing’: Women reclaim Borneo rainforest | Gallery News

Kinabatangan River, Malaysia – On the Kinabatangan river in the Sabah River in Borneo, local women’s groups have been working to rehabilitate a rain forest that has been in ruins for more than a decade.

They hope to pave the way for wildlife sanctuaries in one of Malaysia ‘s biodiversity hotspots, which has been under pressure for years over the ever-growing palm oil plantations.

Sabah produced about two million tons of palm oil in the first six months of this year, more than any other country in Malaysia, the world’s second-largest exporter of date palms for ice cream and ice cream.

The growth of the industry has not only led to deforestation but also to deforestation, overcrowding and isolation, including elephants and special Borneo monkeys, living in small areas.

Women’s forest groups plant native trees in carefully selected areas with the aim of connecting wildlife sanctuaries near their village of Sukau.

“We need to help conserve wildlife because the remaining rain forest below Kinabatangan is too small. We need to plant more to provide food for wildlife that is on the verge of extinction,” said Mariana Singgong, director general. . of two forest-planting groups. “We are preserving plants and animals for future generations.”

Since the reforestation process in 2008 under the auspices of HUTAN, a wildlife and forest management organization, the women have planted and managed approximately 101 hectares (250 acres) of tropical rain forest – about one third of the Central Park area of ​​New York.

Their main purpose is not to plant too many trees, but to ensure that the crops survive in areas where small trees are at risk of being crushed by tall grass, bushes, ferns and vines.

The groups spend about three-quarters of their time managing schemes, and their commitment has ensured that more than 80 percent of trees have survived.

The need for good care and proper care is what led HUTAN to establish its entire forest planting program in women’s groups, which are special in rural Sabah, where women are considered primarily as house builders.

“Men really do other kinds of work, planting trees, but if we ask them to come back to the same place over and over again, they will not care for any seedlings as much as women would. “Said Marc Ancrenaz, founder of HUTAN.

This year renovation work was hit hard by the epidemic as women failed to visit the site regularly during Malaysia’s long months of COVID-19.

When he returned, he was disappointed by what he found.

“We saw that many trees were in trouble, some were dead, we were saddened to see that they were not growing well. The new ones, especially the new ones, are affected, three months without care and can die, ”Norinah Braim, director of a group of foresters, told Al Jazeera.

The women aimed to plant 5,000 trees this year. So far only 1,770 have been able to make it, but they are not disappointed.

“Usually by October we get what we want, but because of the closure there are delays,” Norinah said. “Of course we will achieve what we want by the end of the year, we will try to do this. Women power!”

HUTAN and the women’s team work on reforestation was displayed in Al Jazeera’s Earthrise program in 2012.

This article was produced with the support of the Rainforest Journalism Fund in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center.




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