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Brunei Human-Rainforest Interaction

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ellen, Roy; Bernstein, J
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4384
Sector: Forestry
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): rain forests
human behavior
resource management
Abstract: "The project was originally designed to link up with the 1989-92 Brunei Rainforest Research Project (BRP), sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). This was a major programme of work based in the Batu Apoi reserve of Temburong district, involving a large international group of scientists (mainly biologists and some geographers). In the initial proposals social science inputs were noticeably absent. The application for the award which was subsequently funded was in part an attempt to plug this gap, and a response to a practical opportunity for interdisciplinary cooperation and access to existing research and administrative infrastructures. The application was also made in the context of known ESRC policy with respect to integrating natural and social scientific research on Global Environmental Change. Work in Brunei was considered of particular anthropological significance given the extent to which rainforest had been conserved, but the rapid rate at which most forest-dwellers were being absorbed into a high wage non-subsistence based lifestyle. "Ellen visited Brunei in September 1991 to make preliminary arrangements for the project. By this time, however, it had become clear that the Brunei authorities would not permit research in the Batu Apoi area. As a wildlife reserve, the government did not officially allow human settlement and subsistence extraction, although it was known to occur. As a result, the project moved to Sukang in the Belait district, and our official sponsor and institutional collaborator became the Brunei Museum rather than UBD. Bernstein arrived in the field in April 1992 and made three short preliminary trips to Sukang, where he encountered delays and logistical problems, and for which he was eventually unable to obtain official residence permission. The field site, therefore, moved yet again, this time to Tasek Merimbun (Rambai Sub-district) in the Tutong district, a location which Ellen had visited in 1991 and ear-marked as a possibility. "Moving the field site twice led to inevitable delays, a missed optimal season for collecting ethnobotanical specimens, and to the effective detachment of the ESRC project from the biological work being done in Temburong. However, Tasek Merimbun has otherwise proved to be a most satisfactory field site, with excellent access. The award of a three month extension by the ESRC has compensated for most of the lost time."

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