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At least 5 communities practise 'Tagal Hutan'
Published on: Thursday, February 18, 2016
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At least 5 communities practise 'Tagal Hutan'
Kota Kinabalu: At least five communities in the State have already implemented their own version of 'tagal hutan' projects in their efforts to preserve and control their natural forest resources through the use of traditional customs and knowledge.Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (Joas) Secretary General Jannie Lasimbang (pic), in her keynote address at the 'Workshop on Promoting Tagal Hutan to Conserve Traditional Indigenous Practices, Enhance Watershed Management and Address Climate Change' on Wednesday, said all these traditional practices showed that although there is no basic framework, 'tagal hutan' is still practised and maintained by the indigenous peoples in the State.

The five villages are Alutok in Tenom, Sungai Eloi in Pitas, Terian in Penampang, Kiau in Kota Belud and Mangkawagu in Tongod.

"This shows the communities are committed to preserve traditional practices, improve the management of watershed areas and handle the effect of climate change. In the 'tagal hutan', they managed to enhance the traditional values, increase participation among community members and educate as well as promote the spiritual aspect of these traditional customs," she said.

The five communities practise different types of 'tagal hutan', she said, depending on their locality and needs.

In Kg Alutok, the 'tagal hutan' is a limit on hunting, Sungai Eloi is a preservation of the mangroves area by the Dusun Tombuono community, Terian is a watershed management through the sustainable use of resources, Kiau promotes the use of 'boros puru' or Dusun's forest language and Mangkawagu documents traditional knowledge on wild honey gathering in the forest.

Jannie said there is a great desire among NGOs, especially the Sabah Social Forestry Working Group, to promote the practise to other communities by working closely with government's departments and agencies.

Currently, she said, the State already has six enactments and policies which can be used to support and implement the plan including the Sabah Forestry Enactment, Sabah Parks Regulations 2011, Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, Sabah Water Resource Enactment 1998, Section 78 of the Sabah Land Ordinance 1930 and Sabah Land Use Policy 2010.

"Tagal is a traditional practice of the indigenous communities and it will continue to be a part of their lives.

The communities can use it should the need arise especially when their natural resources dwindle.

"As long as the right to determine their own destiny is given to the indigenous peoples, they are free to practise 'Tagal Hutan' as one way to preserve their culture, the forest and their lands and address climate change," she said.

Therefore, Jannie added, the drafting of a policy framework to encourage 'tagal hutan' is an ideal plan although not critical but it could add to the value of the project and accelerate towards achieving the objectives of the programme.

"This is proven by the success of 'tagal sungai'. Once the policy framework was in place and promoted by the Fisheries Department, the practice received tremendous recognition and support from all levels.

"There are already existing frameworks for 'tagal hutan' that can be adopted by the Government and thus fast-track this idea to be disseminated to as many communities as possible," she said.

Jannie also outlined several challenges that must be overcome to ensure the objectives can be achieved, namely possible conflicts of interest, the recognition of several forms of 'tagal hutan', management effectiveness, effective participation and decision-makers within the community, limits of coordination and jurisdiction and research and education.

Failure to address these challenges, she said, would probably hamper the hard works of all involved in the campaign.


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