Borneo Volunteer Projects
In Borneo we are working alongside the indigenous Penan people to protect and preserve the Sarawak rainforest. We're planting around 10,000 trees a year, reforesting areas which have been damaged by illegal logging and extreme weather phenomena. You'll have the chance to explore the rainforest, learn from the deep knowledge and traditions of the Penan people, assist with the collection of saplings and seeds from the forest, help with the planting of saplings in the tree nurseries we are supporting and be fully immersed in the fascinating culture of this amazing place.
Adventure Alternative contributes to the local economy and spreads that income throughout the community by choosing carefully the people we work with and making agreements beforehand about how many clients we will bring and how much money the community will get from the visit. Our leader makes regular visits to the villages in order to ensure that we are not making unfair demands on the community and that our presence is both wanted and enjoyed.
In the Penan villages we spent two years preparing the ground and building trust with the villagers before discussing the concept of bringing tourism to the area in order to help fund the projects they most wanted, those being education and forest enrichment to tackle the effects of logging. Tourism is a completely new concept to them. The local benefits are to some extent unknown, we simply have to treat everything with great care and respect. We don’t condone exploitative tourism at all, we fundamentally believe that the community needs to extract more out of the tourism ‘contract’ than the visitor.
Therefore, on one level the financial benefit is easy to quantify, but on another level we are exposing these people to a new way of life which we want to promote as a way in which to protect their heritage and culture. We have been successful with this in remote areas of the Himalaya and even Africa, but clearly this is a long term commitment and one that must combine all the theory surrounding community tourism and the practicality of bringing visitors to such a special area. If their habitat had never been endangered by the logging companies cutting down all the trees, then you could say that there would never be a need for tourism, but in this case tourism could in fact offer them a source of cash income as an alternative to being forced into the need to cut down trees for money.