Sukau, Malaysia //
The Kinabatangan River meanders 350 miles through northern Borneo, making it the second longest river in Malaysia. Known for its remarkable and unique ecological habitats, the Father of Rivers is home to extraordinary wildlife, the orangutan being the largest celebrity in the bunch.
On its lush banks sits Sukau, a village that is taking measures to counter the lure of palm oil production, Malaysia’s fourth largest industry. Expanding palm plantations often occur at the expense of biodiversity as rainforests are razed to the ground and replaced with massive monocultured plantations.
Local biologists and environmental groups in the small town have helped create economically viable measures to connect severely fragmented forests, securing safe passage for the density of wildlife the area is so well-known for. Residents have begun to invest in tree nurseries, the young saplings used to reforest these “corridors of life,” which are established with the well-paid labor of locals. In a region where demand for wildlife tourism is on the rise, this alternative to small-scale palm production for locals is showing potential to be an effective model for change.