Some of the first questions people ask us are:
– What is an ecovillage? What is Sumbiling Eco Village?
– How is your business an ecovillage?
– What makes your place different from all the other operators?
There is no short and simple answer to these questions, which is why we have dedicated this page to explaining what exactly we stand for, what we do, and how and why we do what we do. We felt the best way would be to approach it based on the questions listed above.
It is a small social community sharing the same ecological, social, cultural or even religious values. Such communities arose as a reaction to growing concerns among some in conventional societies about the damage done by modern lifestyles to the environment and to traditional socio-cultural values and also as a conscious choice to live with less environmental impact. Ecovillages tend to be smaller clusters of human settlement, numbers of people based on sustainability. These ecovillages are typified by sustainable living features such as non-dependence on fossil fuels for electricity and vehicular fuel, usage and storage of rainwater, environmentally sound construction, with reused or sustainable materials, and many more exciting ideas.
So how does Sumbiling Eco Village fall into the above definition? Simple, we don’t! Well, not quite anyway! But do hear us out! Our whole concept was mooted by founder and managing director, Leslie Chiang in 2007. He envisioned an ecotourism project which served to promote awareness and cultivate sustainability – environmentally, socially, culturally and economically. This was to be achieved through the operation of close-to-nature stays in the rainforest, as well as various rainforest and adventure tours, in cooperation with villagers who would share their culture and way of life with visitors.
The project materialised as a cooperation with the Ibans of Kampung Sumbiling Lama, the second last village on the southbound Jalan Batang Duri in Temburong District. The company provided the concept, funding, planning and management of the project, while the villagers provided the manpower, outdoors and cultural expertise, as well as suggestions and ideas which proved invaluable to the continuing growth and improvement of the project. From the start, a close relationship was forged between the management and the villagers, and to this day, it is something we are proud to tell others – that the villagers are an integral part of Sumbiling Eco Village!
So, what’s in a name? Sumbiling to denote our location, Eco to signify our commitment to sustainable ecotourism, and our ambitious goals to make our project a model for environmental care and development of awareness and Village as a tribute to the villagers who are such an integral part of what we do, and whose well-being we strive to improve.
Although, like everyone else, profitability is a main concern, we also rank the well-being and development of the villagers side by side with it. We also place a strong emphasis on ecological concerns, and are determined to ensure sustainable ecotourism is our way and eventually the way of others who follow suit in the industry. To sum up our objectives, we have lined up the following goals.
Cultivate knowledge and love for the environment
– Tours, stays and programmes expose visitors to the rainforest, its flora and fauna.
Preserve surrounding natural environment
– Utilising small, wooden basic structures.
– No major construction designs.
– No air-conditioning or excessive comforts.
Living the 3 R’s in our operations
(Reduce waste & wastage, reuse and recycle)
– Rubbish sorting.
– Reduction and eventual non-use of plastic bags, bottles, etc.
– New structures built with reused wood.
Promote use of natural alternatives
– Utilising alternatives such as rattan/bamboo instead of nylon/plastic,
– Leaves instead of melamine plates,
– Bug repellent from plant ingredients, and more.
Build self-esteem of local community
– Through their involvement and achievements.
Involve local community
– Idea sharing, teamwork in operations.
Build pride in own indigenous culture & local way of life
– Through sharing with visitors, affirmation and encouragement received by locals.
Create economic opportunities
– Work for local villagers.
Cultivate knowledge and affinity for indigenous culture & way of life
Tours, stays and programmes expose visitors to the unique culture, past-times and ways of the locals.