Environmental and Community Work on the Kinabatangan River in Borneo

This volunteer project in Borneo is based on the banks of the stunning Kinabatangan River; an extremely biologically diverse area where orangutans, gibbons, proboscis monkeys, langur monkeys, Borneo pygmy elephants, crocodiles and a whole host of wild and wonderful bird species live. This project is a unique initiative that is run for the community by the community. It was set up to protect the forest habitat, wildlife and biodiversity of the local area while preserving the livelihood of the local population. Volunteers get involved with conservation and community work during their stay meaning that everyone who lives in the area benefits from the work being done, from the orangutans to their slightly less hairy cousins - humans! Fragmented and degraded forests are the most critical threats to the survival of Borneo’s 10 primate, and various other, species.

The two major factors that have contributed to the degradation in the area have been forest fires and the uncontrolled poaching of timber. The area surrounding the local community was devastated by raging forest fires in 1983 and then again in 1998. Studies showed that, after the 1983 fires, almost zero natural regeneration occurred during the proceeding 20 years. The project was started to help regenerate the areas destroyed by the fire but with such a large area destroyed, volunteer support is very much needed. It is not only the forest that needs conserving: the nearby lake which is a vital source of fish for the locals and also the location of the Eco Camp run by the project requires constant conservation from the noxious water weed, Salvinia Molesta, which, if left unchecked, choke critical wetland habitats, turning once pristine lakes, freshwater swamps and tributaries into festering sludge pits.

Volunteers are needed for both reforestation and lake conservation work. In addition to this, volunteers are also needed to take part in community work including teaching, house/school renovations, and helping to repair the locals boats.

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What to Expect?

Volunteer work is split up so that approximately 60% of the work is based on conservation and 40% on community development. This may vary according to the time of year and the needs of the project at the time. Volunteers are split into groups and meet every morning to be assigned their tasks. Following this you will be taken to your project site where you will either be involved in tree planting, clearing Salvinia Molesta (a form of weed) from the lake, or various community projects including teaching, home/school renovations, and helping the locals with any manual work that needs to be done such as fixing their boats. The work is split on a 4 day rotation so, for example, you will work on community based projects for 4 days and then move onto another area.

  • Program ID: # 1929
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
    2 Weeks to 1 Month
    1 to 3 Months
  • location:
    5° 51' 23.31" N, 117° 51' 40.7808" E
  • Fitness level:
    Light Impact
    Moderately Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Sandakan (SDK)
  • Costs From:
    $1000 to $1500
    $1500 to $3000
    Over $3000
  • Program Type:
    Community Development Projects
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
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