New initiatives provide resettled communities with sustainable livelihood opportunities

Hamden (left) exchanging the MoU documents with Sharbini (right), witnessed by Abang Johari (centre), Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh (second from left) and Resource Planning and Environment Ministry permanent secretary Wan Lizosman Wan Omar (second from right). — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state Forest Department to expand sustainable livelihood opportunities for resettled communities in Murum and Batang Ai.

The partnership will focus on replenishing non-timber forest products (NTFP) to sustain community livelihood at the Murum Resettlement Area as well as set up a “tagang” (restricted fishing) system at Rumah Manggat in Ulu Menyang, Batang Ai.

Both communities live within the vicinity of SEB’s Murum and Batang Ai hydroelectric plants.

Signing for SEB were its group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili and corporate services vice-president Aisah Eden, while the Forest Department was represented by director Hamden Mohammad and deputy director Jack Liam.

It was witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex here yesterday.

In the Murum Resettlement Area, SEB and the department would work together to initiate, facilitate and encourage participation from the community to sustain NTFP species such as rattan, commonly harvested by the Penan for handicraft, and gaharu (agarwood), which is either sold raw or harvested.

This would be carried out through an enrichment planting initiative to ensure a continuous supply of NTFP resources for the community.

In Batang Ai, villagers from Rumah Manggat stand to benefit from communal fishery management through a “tagang” system, which would be carried out in collaboration with the Agriculture Department.

This would help replenish riverine stocks and provide better care of the river ecosystem, besides giving the community a sustainable livelihood option with ecotourism potential.

Sharbini said SEB was pleased to continue working with both communities through the new initiatives under the MoU.

“Our aim is to help expand sustainable livelihood opportunities for the Murum Penans and the villagers of Rumah Manggat so they are able to generate more income.

“This subsequently leads to improved standard of living while ensuring the biodiversity impacts arising from the projects are managed responsibly,” he said.

SEB will contribute over RM300,000 to both projects.

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