THE village of Bundu Tuhan is spotless. Save for the occasional cow pat left behind by grazing livestock, no litter is in sight when one strolls around the village nestled in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu in Ranau district, Sabah.
Most rural settlements, lacking proper waste collection, are usually marred by stinking refuse heaped by roadsides and behind homes, but not Bundu Tuhan. Its cleanliness is owed to strict rules – a fine of between RM50 and RM200 awaits anyone caught littering. And several people have been punished.
|Ancestral lands: The primary forest that fringes the village of Bundu Tuhan|
in Ranau district, Sabah, exists because the community passionately protects it.
The red-roofed buildings are a new residential school under construction.
It is an impressive case of self-governance by a community, and the result? A tranquil village fringed by verdant forest in mist-shrouded highlands which 3,200 people call home.
The idyllic settlement some 90km from Kota Kinabalu was the fruitful labour of past village leaders who had fought to protect their ancestral property beginning in the 1950s. They first applied to gazette their settlement as a native reserve in 1966 and succeeded in doing so, finally, under the Sabah Land Ordinance in 1983.
In the Dusun language, bundu is a fruit tree while tuhan is an abridgement of the word notuhan for “fall”, so the village name means “felled bundu tree”, and has nothing to do with God.
|Highland vegetables such as onions and cabbage are grown in Bundu Tuhan. |
Village rules restrict farming on steep, landslide-prone areas.
To safeguard their picture-perfect environments, the community has wisely divided the 1,255ha native reserve: one-third is set aside as residential reserve for homes and grazing land, while two-thirds is a community forest. They have vowed to leave the forest out of their development plans, says village chief Sokuil Ladsau, 56.
|Framed by verdant highlands, the village of Bundu Tuhan |
is an idyllic settlement under the shadow of Mount Kinabalu.
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