Project information

Capacity Building in Remote Forest Communities

Borneo is home to one of the largest and most biodiverse stretches of rainforest left standing in the world today, despite rampant deforestation. This bold, multidisciplinary project will equip remote communities with the skills and resources to conserve their environments, whilst educating us all.

March 2013 - July 2013

Charity information: Heart of Borneo Project

Heart of Borneo Project logo
  • Need


    Borneo is the third largest island on earth, and was once covered coast to coast in rainforest that was astoundingly rich in biodiversity and culture. In just a few short decades, well over half of that rainforest has been destroyed for mining, timber, and palm oil. Countless species have been forced to extinction, and the peoples who lived in harmony with this environment are now settled and marginalised, with little or no land tenure, and often no power in the debate that shapes their future.


    The Longhouse Project will create a replicable model for putting forest communities in the driving seat of the conservation/development agenda.
    The construction will be broadcast online, raising awareness of the culture and traditions of the communities, and of the wider issues.

    Once built, the Longhouse will facilitate vital research and interactive outreach activity, training community members in these techniques in the process, and generating funds for community development projects.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Construct a traditional Dayak Longhouse to act as a community-owned research and training centre


    » Conduct community-wide discussions to establish the governance model for the project, and provide support for any new institutions required
    » Design the longhouse with elders and local architects from remote communities, taking lessons from existing longhouses in the region
    » Work with experts to incorporate sustainable technologies into the design such as water capture and heating, and use the longhouse as a living lab

    What success will look like

    Safely delivering the longhouse to budget and on time, with a negative net environmental impact, and a fair, equitable, and locally designed governance structure in place

    Aim 2

    Empower communities to sustainably manage their environment, and engage with regional agendas


    » Undertake participatory mapping program as a vital first step toward information gathering and sharing
    » Recruit and train Rainforest Guardians from the communities to work alongside and be trained by professionals in research, advocacy and activism
    » Recruit and train Community Conservation Leaders and establish effective engagement with regional concession holders
    » Establish a community-governed fund to collect profits from the use of the research station, to be spent on community development projects

    What success will look like

    Success will be a GIS referenced land use database; 10 Rainforest Guardians and 4 Community Conservation Leaders recruited and trained; and profits funding community development

    Aim 3

    Raise national pride and international awareness of the ecological and cultural heritage of Borneo


    » Deliver an effective multimedia campaign around the longhouse construction, using interactive and live broadcasts and a post-produced documentary
    » Build and populate a multimedia-based online learning platform, with interactive environments and resources in line with national curriculum
    » Increase the amount of applied research inside the Heart of Borneo and foster new collaborations and multidisciplinary approaches between institutions

    What success will look like

    Success will be one million unique interactions with our online content; a broadcast documentary; year round research activity at the longhouse; and 100 schools engaged worldwide

  • Impact


    The project will invert the current relationship that external stakeholders (from industry, government, and NGOs) have with remote communities in Borneo, by equipping these communities with the skills, techniques, language and resources required to lead the conservation and development agenda in their region.

    Success will be defined by the community members taking full control over the management of the research station and the research and outreach activity within 5 years.


    There is a risk of creating conflict within the communities that we are working with. We have built a long-standing relationship with the communities and have developed the entire project with them through ongoing community-wide discussions.

    Bureaucratic problems are also potentially disruptive. We have taken great care to establish positive working relationships with the regional and local government bodies who are supportive of the project.


    Our website will be kept very up to date with multimedia content from the field. We will have a general monthly newsletter sent via email to our mailing list, and a quarterly and annual report sent out specifically to donors. There will also be an annual dinner event.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £122,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £25,000 Longhouse Construction Materials and labour to construct the longhouse
      £10,000 Education Creating educational resources in Indonesian and hosting four school visits to the longhouse
      £7,500 Mapping Facilitating participatory land use mapping of local area.
      £50,000 Guardians and Leaders Recruiting, training and employing Rainforest Guardians and Conservation Leaders for 12 months
      £20,000 Multimedia Campaign Interactive and live broadcasts, post-produced documentary, and live video links
      £10,000 Online Learning Platform Building and populating an interactive media based learning environment

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Allan and Nesta Ferguson Trust £10,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Thousand Rapids Longhouse is named after the sub-district it will be built in: Seribu Riam, found in the centre of Borneo, in Kalimantan.

    This area is a microcosm of the island, with pristine rainforest, turning into degraded and spoiled land as mining and timber companies exploit their concessions. Caught in between and with virtually no power or even land tenure are a few remote communities whose own small scale agricultural and hunting practices also have an impact.


    Two remote communities - Tumbang Naan and Tumbang Tohan will receive the most direct benefits in the form of capacity building, environmental protection, and income for community projects.

    This local benefit will be extended through replication of the model once proven, linking communities across the island.

    The importance of this rainforest ecosystem to local, regional, and international ecosystem services (clean water, climate security, etc) is immeasurable.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have a very good relationship with the key stakeholders in the region, having designed the project with them to meet the specific needs of the area.

    We also have a proven record of success in delivering large, complex, and multidisciplinary projects alongside remote communities in the area.

    Lastly, we believe strongly in collaboration and have identified local and international partners to work with on discreet elements of the project where it is beneficial to do so.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tumbang Naan And Tumbang Tohan

    The two remote communities we have designed this project with live mostly subsistence lifestyles, planting rice and hunting game and fish.

    Martin Holland

    Founder and Director of the Heart of Borneo Project, Martin is the Project Manager, and main driving force behind the multidisciplinary approaches

    Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF)

    As a result of our research in the area, BOSF were able to begin releasing orangutans here, and will be supporting the community development program.

    Pangea TV Productions

    Pangea are supporting the documentation of the project and are currently securing a major broadcast deal for the post-produced documentary.