More than one hundred thousand tree seedlings have been sold by local communities in Kinabatangan, Sabah since 2008 through their small-scale backyard nurseries.
The tree nurseries project which is called Komuniti Anak Pokok Kinabatangan Program (KAPOK), funded by United Nation Development Program under their Small Grant Project (SGP-GEF-UNDP) and facilitated by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has engaged 39 villagers from four villages in Kinabatangan with the aim to support forest restoration works in Kinabatangan by supplying high quality tree seedlings and at the same time increase their income through alternative means.
According to one of the participants, Rukee b. Madahir, at the beginning of KAPOK project in 2008, all participants were given tool kits such as wire mesh, shading net, polybags and water tank to build their own 10m X 10m nurseries.
“Within the two years project period, from 2008 until 2010, we have attended training on nursery management and business skills conducted by WWF and visited Forest Research Centre in Sandakan and INFAPRO Nursery in Danum,” he added.
Through KAPOK, the local communities in four villages are trained on how to become a responsible tree seedlings suppliers as they were made to pledge to supply only high quality seedlings. Most of the buyers include state government agencies, oil palm companies, tree planting contractors, homestay operators, local NGOs and even Nestle, an internationally renowned company, which is currently helping with forest restoration works in Kinabatangan.
Everyone in Kinabatangan is working very hard towards realizing the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life vision: a contiguous forests along the Kinabatangan corridor where people, wildlife, nature-based tourism and local forest industries thrive and support each other.
Rukee who is also a tree planting coordinator for ecotourism activities in his kampung expressed his regret referring to his involvement in logging operation in Kinabatangan more than a decade ago, “We no longer see huge trees like those in the Danum Valley and the river water is not like it is used to be before. We owed a lot to Mother Nature.
We have to pay back. If I do not take action now, my grandchildren will never know how beautiful Kinabatangan is, like what I have seen before.”