Archive for August, 2011

11th Borneo Research Council Conference 2012

via Borneo Research Council Conference 2012.

The 11th biennial conference of the Borneo Research Council, to be hosted by Universiti Brunei Darussalam in Bandar Seri Begawan, 25-27 June 2012.

The Borneo Research Council is a non-profit, international organisation which aims to advance knowledge in the social, biological and medical sciences as they relate to Borneo. One way of doing this is through the BRC conferences, which since 1990 have been held biennially at universities around Borneo. ‘The BRC’ is attended by scholars from around the world: many from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and many from other ASEAN countries, the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere.

The overall theme for BRC2012 is “Identities, Cultures and Environments”, concepts crucial to an understanding of Borneo and of the rapid changes now being felt across the island. We welcome papers relating to this theme, or to a related subtheme (see the Call for Papers).

Keynote Speakers. We are pleased to welcome the following distinguished scholars as

Keynote Speakers: Professor Nancy Lee Peluso, Professor Wan Zawawi Ibrahim and Assoc. Professor Ulmar Grafe


Land Use Planning

Source:  WWF Malaysia – Land Use Planning.

Did you know that what happens hundreds and even thousands of kilometres away from us can affect the quality of our tap water? Effluents from agricultural run-off, plantations or factories, logging upstream, rubbish and untreated sewage from people living downstream all pollute our rivers and affect our water quality, fish and other aquatic life.This is where land-use planning comes in. It is the process of organising, managing, and regulating the use of lands and their resources to meet the socio-economic development of the country whilst safeguarding the environment.

Land-use planning is used to meet people’s needs in the most efficient and sustainable way while taking into account the land’s natural capacities.Land-use planning is essential in physical environmental management and biodiversity conservation. Impacts due to poor land use are regularly highlighted in the media: river pollution, conflicts of land use such as the citing of housing projects adjacent to landfills – the list goes on.

As more competing uses for land and its resources arise, conflict often follows.Land-use planning and management mechanisms that design and incorporates the needs of various sectors are therefore vital to help reduce land-use conflicts, conserve critical ecosystems, protect and manage environmentally sensitive habitats, restore degraded conservation areas, and ultimately, ensure a healthy and safe life for Malaysians.

……. more to come


Religious forests to protect biodiversity hotspots |

Posted by Alicia Perez Rodriguez on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Oxford scientists are producing an entire map of the world’s religious forests –locations that contain some of richest biodiversity in the world, including some of the highest numbers of threatened species. A research team is now engaged in a project to scientifically measure the full extent of global coverage that religious forests provide and assess their value in terms of biodiversity and land use by the local community. Religious forests are managed through the stewardship of community elders but most receive no formal protection. The researchers hope this evidence-based assessment will be the first step in ensuring these biodiversity hotspots are fully protected through official channels-like regional or national governments.

Religious communities recently estimated that they owned up to one tenth of the word’s forests. Oxford scientists are in the vanguard in recognising the important role that religious groups can play as partners in conservation. The research team will gather information in face-to-face meetings with local communities and carry out field studies in the forests and other sacred sites- with the initial visits already planned to India and Ghana. The team hopes to build links and gather evidence about the scientific significance of the forests.

An initiative to globally map religious forests was started in collaboration with ARC (Alliance of Religions and Conservation) but until now the efforts have mainly focused on areas owned by mainstream religious groups. Oxford University has teamed up with ARC and the scientists behind another similar project, SANASI, to spearhead and evidence-based approach that identifies and assessed all religious forests, including those managed by much smaller groups.

Professor Kathy Willis, Dr Shonil Bhagwat and graduate student Ashley Massey at the Biodiversity Institute (part of Oxford Martin School) aim to create an evidence-based database that can inform scientists on how they can work with community groups and religions.

Read more at:  Religious forests to protect biodiversity hotspots |

Sacred Land Film Project – Mapping Sacred Sites

Maps tell stories, and control of the printing press allowed colonial powers to tell their own stories for centuries.

A Native American tribe that was literally taken off the map in California’s history books — and is still unrecognized by the U.S. government — is using technology to put itself back on the map. On June 11 and 12, Eli Moore and Catalina Garzon of the Pacific Institute and Miho Kim of the Data Center led a mapping workshop with the Winnemem Wintu tribe to continue a long process of documenting sacred sites in the Winnemem’s traditional cultural territory. On Saturday, mapping terminology and GPS skills were mastered in the Winnemem village near Redding, and on Sunday a dozen young people practiced their new skills while visiting four sacred sites along the McCloud River. We filmed the workshop to include as a scene in our Losing Sacred Ground documentary series.

All over the world, indigenous communities are incorporating mapping into their communication and outreach strategies, as they craft the stories they want to tell to the outside world about their struggles to protect land, culture, language and sacred sites. Mapping now figures into five of our eight stories: in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Russia’s Altai Republic, the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and in Northern California. As Winnemem leader Caleen Sisk-Franco says, “We need to create evidence to convince the Forest Service that this is a historic cultural district containing a network of sacred sites that all work together. Different places teach us different things and have different purposes. But we need them all.”

via Sacred Land Film Project » Clips.

Sacred Land Film Project – News Researchers Map World’s Sacred Forests

Researchers Map World’s Sacred Forests

Posted by: Amberly Polidor – Posted in: Africa, Asia, Success Story – via Sacred Land Film Project » News & Blog.

Shinto/Buddhist pilgrimage trail through forest in the Kii Mountains of Japan. Photo courtesy of Brad Towle.About 15 percent of the world’s surface is “sacred land” and about eight percent of it — mostly forest — is owned by religious groups, according to a team of Oxford University scientists working on a project to scientifically measure the coverage of religious and sacred land around the globe and assess its biodiversity and land-use values.

While initially focused on areas owned or revered by the world’s mainstream religious groups, the project — a collaboration with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation — has moved into a broader stage of mapping all “religious forests,” including those managed by much smaller groups and communities. The aim is to create a database to aid scientists working with community and religious groups on conservation efforts.

The research team, from the Biodiversity Institute in the Oxford Martin School, will carry out field studies and collect information in face-to-face interviews with local communities spanning the globe and representing a spectrum of beliefs and practices. Visits are already planned to India and Ghana. (Read our sacred site reports to learn more about sacred forest groves in India and Ghana.)

To create the database, researchers will collect information on boundary lines and land rights; a forest’s biodiversity value and role in carbon-dioxide absorption; and the local community’s relationship with the forest over generations — religious and cultural uses, including medicinal plant resources.

The results could play a vital role in conservation, as well as native land rights efforts. “We urgently need to map this vast network of religious forests, sacred sites and other community-conserved areas to understand their role in biodiversity conservation,” research team member Dr. Shonil Bhagwat said. “Such mapping can also allow the custodian communities, who have protected these sites for generations, to secure their legal status.”

Sacred Land Film Project Campaign Urges – Reroute of Pipeline Across Sacred Plateau

August 11, 2011

Posted by: Amberly Polidor, Posted in: Action Alert, Asia, Energy – via Sacred Land Film Project » News & Blog.

Ukok Plateau guardian stones in the Altai mountains of Russia. © 2010 Christopher McLeodA global campaign is under way to help the Telengit Indigenous People of Russia’s Altai Republic reroute construction of a natural-gas pipeline that would cross the sacred Ukok Plateau on its journey from Siberia to China.

This high plateau in the Altai Mountains has been a sacred burial ground for at least 8,000 years. Today, the Telengit people carry out their ancient rituals on the Ukok amid the burial mounds, stone stellae, and petroglyphs of their ancestors.

As SLFP reported in April, the 1,700-mile pipeline would cut through the heart of the Golden Mountains of Russia’s Altai Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a region of sacred significance to the Telengit people.

The Telengit say the pipeline would destroy many of their sacred monuments. It would also inflict environmental damage to the World Heritage site, threaten endangered species such as the snow leopard, and damage the plateau’s permafrost, hastening the melting of nearby glaciers. They say the pipeline would also cause economic harm: The Telengit practice free-range animal husbandry, fishing and hunting, and are developing cultural and ecological tourism — and pipeline construction, contamination, and the melting of the permafrost will affect their economic activities and thus their sources of food and livelihood.

Talks between Russia and China over an export agreement had been stalled for years over price, but the two countries are reportedly very close to signing a deal, and Gazprom’s CEO said after the annual shareholders’ meeting in July, “We are completely ready to begin pipeline construction.”

via Sacred Land Film Project » News & Blog.

The Borneo Project – The Last Nomads Toolkit

via The Borneo Project » The Last Nomads Toolkit.

In 2008, The Last Nomads won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This film highlights the work of activist and anthropologist Ian MacKenzie, who has worked with the traditionally nomadic Penan for two decades.

His search for the last nomadic Penan people highlights the destruction of the rainforests of Borneo, as well as the systematic destruction of traditional cultures. The Borneo Project is now able to make this film available to you to show in your home! The Last Nomads Tool Kit contains:

1 A copy of The Last Nomads

2 Recommendations for showing the film

3 Introduction to Borneo sheet also see presentation at

4 Borneo Project Materials including introductions to Borneo and to the Project.

5 Borneo Project donation envelopes and sign in sheets

Details of how to do this are also in your tool kit. To order a Last Nomads Toolkit, email Please include your address, and rough estimate of number of people you expect at your event.