SciDev.Net

Supermarket jungle

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Source: SciDev.Net

Borneo’s intact rainforests are among the world’s most biologically diverse environments, providing an abundance of foods that have fed people for thousands of years.

Villagers in the Kelabit Highlands, near the Malaysian-Indonesian border, traditionally hunt wild game and forage for hundreds of species of jungle fruits, vegetables, shoots and herbs. This region illustrates how critical forests are to the survival of indigenous populations living in some of the world’s most remote regions. [1] Thanks to the area’s fertile environment, hunger and malnutrition are virtually unknown in the Kelabit Highlands. [2]

But logging threatens the biodiversity of this mountainous region, as well as the traditional Kelabit way of life. In just five years, almost 10 percent of all forests in the Malaysian state of Sarawak have been cleared. [3] Combined with cultural change – younger generations leaving the Highlands for school and work in the cities – age-old lifestyles and diets are quickly changing.

Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern trekked through the Kelabit Highlands, following villagers on their quest for food and interviewing locals about their concerns for the future.

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