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Raleigh Borneo leaves an indelible mark in conservation efforts

12th September, 2018


KOTA KINABALU: Throughout its three-decade legacy, Raleigh Borneo has left an indelible mark in conservation efforts in Sabah, and helping rural communities step forward to a better and sustainable future.

Its Programme Manager, Adam J. Young highlighted the core focus of Raleigh Borneo’s mission in Sabah has been centered on building resilient communities, contributing to biodiversity conservation, protection and research as well as improving access to clean water and sanitation.

The contribution of Raleigh volunteers to Sabah’s rural communities and environmental protection has been instrumental – a remarkable feat which succeeded not only to uplift the lives of rural folk living in Sabah’s interior but also educating young people on protecting the environment and Sabah’s priceless flora and fauna.

“Sabah is home to some of the greatest biodiversity and ecosystems in the world – it’s essential that young people are made aware on the priceless natural assets, and to care and protect the environment,” he told New Sabah Times in an interview.

Young people are the best hope for nature conservation highlights, said Adam, and the focus on the youth forms an integral part of Raleigh’s efforts to promote environmental education and awareness among Sabah’s rural communities.

According to Adam, providing training and workshops empowers young people with the knowledge and skills which keeps them better informed and aware on the threats of land-clearing, deforestation and poaching, to species survival and the environment.

Furthermore, he said youths are given lessons on collecting data on the natural environment which gives them a better insight on the health of flora and fauna species, the carbon contained in their forests. “With this information, you can hold decision makers to account and make better decisions about the natural resources as well,” he said.

Apart from conservation and education, Raleigh’s projects are also about improving economic and employment prospects for rural communities.

“I think a big part of building resilient communities is working with rural folks to help them adapt and respond better to social and economic challenges,” said Adam. Relating one of such programme in Telupid, he noted Raleigh supported young people between ages 17 and 32 to start their own business through 10-week workshops which taught them the basics, such as developing a business plan.

“It’s a great programme, and as a result, Raleigh was actually funding 22 green enterprises which were started by youths in the Telupid region,” he said.

The key to the future of conservation lies in the hands of the youth, Adam believes, and educating the younger generation could influence positive behavior change among rural communities against threats to species survival, such as wildlife poaching.

“We are trying to show rural communities that there are alternative ways of making income while maintaining the health of the forest and protecting its wildlife but this will be a gradual change.

“However, it’s wonderful to know that the younger generation is very passionate, they care about the environment and this is important because young people are the key influencers who take that message back home to their families,” said Adam.

He pointed out that young people represent a big demographic in Malaysia, with 44 per cent of the country’s population are under 35 years old.

“That’s a lot of young people, and through these youth-centered projects, we can inspire and motivate more youths to become environmental champions and in turn they will spread the message of conservation to their communities,” he added.

Commenting on Raleigh Borneo’s recent handover to its national societies, Adam expressed his confidence on Raleigh Sabah Society and Raleigh Kuala Lumpur to continue Raleigh legacy of work across Malaysia.

“After 31 years, I think it’s high time the legacy of Raleigh’s work in the country is passed on to young Malaysians who will carry out their mission to build a better and sustainable future for the country and the environment,” he said.

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