Today, the Swiss Canton of Basel-Stadt (City of Basel) announced a contribution of US$ 200,000 to the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) proposed Upper Baram Forest Area, a conservation and development project in the interior of Sarawak also known as "Baram Peace Park".
According to a press release by the mayor, Beat Jans, the government of Basel has decided to support this project in order to sustain the livelihoods of indigenous communities in the area and to honour the lifetime achievement of Bruno Manser, a Basel-born environmentalist who went missing in Sarawak in May 2000.
The ITTO project covers an area of 283,500 hectares in the upstream region of the Baram river system and will benefit 24 indigenous communities – Penan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Saban – living in the area. It consists of a core zone of 79,000 hectares of primary forest, a buffer zone of secondary forest and an agricultural zone which has been traditionally used by the communities for paddy cultivation. The project proposal has been drafted in close cooperation with community representatives who have fought for the coservation of their forests and the sustainable development of their communities for thirty years.
"We welcome the city of Basel's support for this project. It is a milestone and will animate other donors to join in and make this exceptional community-driven conservation project come true", said Lukas Straumann, the Executive Director of the Bruno Manser Fonds, a Swiss NGO that is contributing another US$200,000 to the ITTO project.
The Upper Baram Forest Area was submitted by the Malaysian government to ITTO and approved by the 56th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council in November 2020. The total budget of the project is US$2 million. Malaysia is covering US$1.2 million leaving the remaining US$800,000 to be funded internationally.