Drones can be used to map NCR land

Bian (left) with Komeok at the Long Lamai gathering in interior Baram.

MIRI: A proposal has been floated to get all indigenous communities in rural Sarawak to use drones to carry out high-tech aerial mappings of disputed Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.

By using drone technology that can accurately capture aerial images, NCR boundaries could be more reliably established, the leader of a group of natives said during a gathering in the Penan settlement of Long Lamai in interior Baram district in northern Sarawak.

Simon Kaelin, a mapping coordinator, said at present, most natives relied on ground surveys to carry out mapping of the NCR land.

“Ground mapping is tedious and costly as it requires a lot of manpower.

“Indigenous communities from all the different ethnic settlements and community organisations should come together and discuss buying their own drones to carry out aerial mappings.

“Use these aerial pictures to draw up maps to show exactly where the natives live and cultivate their crops,” he said, adding that the maps would accurately reflect the native community land and minimise disputes over territorial borders between the natives and state authorities.

Long Lamai headman Bian Belare and Keruan (a Penan community group) chairman Komeok Joe were also present.

The suggestion for natives to use drones for aerial NCR land mapping was expected to be voiced to other natives in other parts of Sarawak to garner their support, said Komeok.

The Penans living in the two million hectares “Heart of Borneo” enclave have already successfully mapped 63 isolated villages.

Komeok said the villagers from the settlements worked together on the ground mapping and covering at least 10,000 sq km over the past 15 years. He said they recently tried out the drone technology and found it useful too.

The Heart of Borneo is a protected area located in central Borneo Island, shared by Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan Indonesia.

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