Lower Kinabatangan &

Segama Wetlands

Advancing Indigenous initiatives for sustaining fisheries, mangroves, forests and wildlife in the co-management of Malaysia’s largest Ramsar site


The Lower Kinabatangan & Segama Wetlands (LKSW) Programme is a long-term effort in advancing Indigenous initiatives for sustaining fisheries, mangroves, forests and wildlife in the co-management of Malaysia’s largest Ramsar site, a wetland larger than Singapore and of international importance.

The origins of the program lie in the community-based tourism and forest and wetland restoration work begun by LEAP in 2006 with Mescot and KOPEL on the Kinabatangan River at Batu Putih and then in Abai on the edge of the LKSW from 2010. These programs led to invitations to bring the work down into the Kinabatangan Delta with in the eight indigenous fishing villages who call this area home namely Abai, Bongun, Dagat, Sri Ganda, Mumiang, Pitas Laut, Tundun Bohangin and Tidung. 

The LKSW Programme was formally launched in 2015 with an GEF SGP and IUCN-funded effort to explore shared governance of the Ramsar site.  Since then Forever Sabah has partnered with the indigenous peoples and local communities, the Sabah Forestry Department, and a wide variety of local and international organizations across these mangroves and swamp forests to facilitate mutual empowerment.

Initial work included community-based participatory mapping of territories and resources in this terrestrial and marine biodiversity hotspot while launching livelihood alternatives connected to improved biodiversity management.  Systematic training and community organizing was integrated with building local institutions, and a movement developed among women and young people and around citizen science, water quality monitoring and restoration of lowland and mangroves forests.

The Program Plan for 2020-22 is built upon the articulation by the Ramsar communities of the need to strengthen and grow their community institutions, grow their confidence, build their communication and other skills to engage ever more fully in natural resource co-management and advancing sustainable livelihoods.

Current priority activities in the LKSW include:

  • Applying the concepts of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA), Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) & Community Protocols for Natural Resource Management to enable resident communities to secure their traditional territories, recover fish stocks, and deploy citizen science to address shared governance, fishery management and biodiversity conservation concerns

  • Expanding the success with connecting Ramsar community fishermen to value added markets and products as part of their transition to sustainability in their livelihoods

  • Backing community efforts to protect, restore and connect forest patches in their traditional territories that support orangutan and gibbon populations with the Ramsar site and to connect these with enhancing livelihoods

Meanwhile we are now collaborating with the Forever Segama Project that addresses riparian biodiversity management and water quality in the Mid-Segama because the community’s water quality studies show how poor practices on oil palm estates are the main drivers of poor water quality and mass fish deaths in the Segama and Kinabatangan Deltas.