The Natural Intelligence of the Dayak Lundayeh in Preserving the Sustainability of Ecotourism and the Heart of the World in Nunukan, North Kalimantan


The aerial view of Long Bawan, one of the districts in Krayan that directly borders Malaysia, reveals a captivating scene. The area has maintained its lush greenery since time immemorial, a testament to the unwavering commitment of its indigenous inhabitants—the Dayak Lundayeh people—to preserve and nurture its sustainability.

In embracing the enchanting ecotourism experience offered by the Krayan region in Nunukan, North Kalimantan today, it is essential to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the indigenous inhabitants—the Lundayeh people. 

Throughout countless centuries predating Indonesia's independence, this community has diligently assumed the roles of stewards, guardians, and impeccable custodians of their natural surroundings.

The Dayak Lundayeh's "natural intelligence"

The Lundayeh people, with their deep-rooted connection to the land and an unwavering sense of responsibility, have fostered a sustainable relationship with the environment, contributing to the flourishing ecotourism we are fortunate to experience today.

Their enduring commitment to environmental preservation and harmonious coexistence with nature has laid the foundation for the pristine landscapes and unique biodiversity that captivate visitors. 

As we savor the beauty of Krayan's landscapes and engage in ecotourism activities, let us not only revel in the present but also acknowledge the profound heritage of sustainable practices that has been passed down through generations. 

The wisdom and stewardship of the Lundayeh people have not only shaped the remarkable biodiversity of the region but have also allowed us, and the world, to partake in a truly authentic and responsibly managed ecotourism experience.

Today, upon examining the map of Kalimantan, it is evident that the "green zone" of the world's third-largest island is located in the region of North Kalimantan. Specifically, in Nunukan Regency, where the majority of the population belongs to the Dayak Lundayeh ethnic group. 

The Borneo Highlands are meticulously guarded and preserved by its indigenous inhabitants to the extent that it has become an axiom that the Dayak tribe's way of life is intertwined with and nurtured by nature. Therefore, it is utterly nonsensical to accuse the Dayak people of causing environmental damage in Borneo; the truth is that it is caused by mining companies, plantation enterprises, and industries.

The Krayan Highlands, located in Nunukan Regency, North Kalimantan, Indonesia, bear distinctive cultural features as the home of the "Lundayeh" ethnic group. Cultural ties are also woven between its residents and the Lun Bawang ethnic group in Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.

Despite being administratively part of Nunukan Regency, the Krayan Highlands are geographically closer to Malaysia than Malinau Regency. This proximity facilitates trade access to Malaysia for the Krayan residents, although traditional border trade faces challenges, especially during the closure of trade routes by Malaysia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond being a trading hub, the Krayan Highlands play a crucial role in preserving the Borneo forest as part of the "Heart of Borneo," an international agreement among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei to conserve the Kalimantan forest ecosystem.

This conservation effort  and Peraturan Desa

This conservation effort materializes through Village Regulations (Peraturan Desa - Perdes), serving not only as legal frameworks but also as cultural foundations. Perdes plays a vital role in ensuring the sustainability of the land, water, and environment in Krayan.

 Recognized as the Heart of Borneo, this region holds a key role in maintaining the ecosystem and environmental sustainability, a responsibility shouldered by the indigenous people, custodians, and heirs of the local homeland.

Despite the opening of the Krayan Ring Road, concerns arise about the risks of industrialization and plantations that may threaten the environmental sustainability of Kalimantan. 

Local residents to preserve their environmental and cultural heritage

Local residents, engaging in discussions through the "Sukara Warisanku" WhatsApp group, explore measures to preserve their environmental and cultural heritage amid changing times.

Village Regulations are not merely rules but a deep commitment to protect and nurture these valuable assets for the present and future generations. 

Serving as guardians of cultural and legal values, Perdes is tangible evidence of how ancestral heritage is cherished and safeguarded with a sense of responsibility, ensuring that the land is well-preserved by its custodians and heirs.

(Masri Sareb Putra)

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