A Centre to Promote Ulu Papar Biocultural Heritage

In 2004, the community of Ulu Papar started working with a group of partners in a project to document key ethnobiological resources important for their livelihoods and how these resources are used, managed and protected. Since then, through several projects and a series of activities – fieldwork, workshops, community exchanges, training courses, expeditions and travelling roadshows – community researchers have been trained to work with their community to map key resource areas and mark them on 3D models, conduct livelihoods assessments, record oral histories, collect botanical specimens of useful plants, and produce a series of participatory videos that share the concerns of their community. These collaborative initiatives, which carried on for 8 years, have been critical in promoting the role of the community in the conservation and management of Ulu Papar. The community thus launched a process to establish Ulu Papar as a Biocultural Heritage Site for Sabah, advocating for the long-term protection of the Ulu Papar landscape and the indigenous people who live there.

The Community Biocultural Heritage Centre, its first phase currently underway, will enable the community to establish Buayan as a hub for community-based conservation and environmental education for the people of Ulu Papar as well as for visiting groups such as students, field researchers, and tourists. Its design stemmed from the concept developed through consultations with the community. Arkitrek, a local social enterprise focused on sustainable design, leads the project through its design and construction stages. The team of 'Arkitrekkers' (a group of architect students from the University of Edinburgh), who raised funds needed for the project, worked tirelessly in July and August this year on the design and construction of the Community Centre.


The community has participated in different stages of its implementation since then, through initial gatherings with representatives from Arkitrek to discuss plans, roles and responsibilities, and the approval of the building design. Community members have also participated in the preparation of woven bamboo panels that will be used as building components, and the collection of natural resources that serve as raw materials for the building.

A group of students from Gakushuin University joined the Arkitrekkers and community members in August to work on the Centre, under the Dissolva Borneo Project 2013. Their participation (through both getting their hands and feet dirty, and financial contributions) is much appreciated.


This month, members of the community continue to prepare building materials needed to complete the building. Construction will continue in October to complete the Centre.


* background information taken from the Project Proposal on Community Biocultural Heritage Centre: in support of sustainable livelihoods in Kg. Buayan, Crocker Range, Sabah (prepared by Agnes Lee Agama)


Please read Arkitrek's blog post on Bamboo Weaving at Buayan, a recount of the workshop held to train community members bamboo weaving skills. Bamboo weaving panels will form part of the Community Centre.


More photos can be found on our FB page, and on Arkitrek's FB page (Arkitrek Camp Buayan and Arkitrek Camp Buayan 'what if').


The project proposal for the Biocultural Heritage Centre is attached below.