PSFR is established for conservation & protection, by the nature of its reserve classification as Class VI (VJR). Zoning is mostly concerned with areas of significance for conservation, and “acceptable human activity” within the reserve. Acceptable Human Activity can be grouped into two types:
- Type 1 activities are those activities, which support the protection status of the reserve and the conservation (or enhancement) of the forest resources within the reserve. Type 1 activities include forest restoration, wetland restoration, or other conservation and protection activities.
- Type 2 activities are those activities which utilise the forest resources in a non-extractive or sustainable manner for social or economic benefit. In PSFR, type 2 activities include tourism & recreation (in low-impact, non-destructive manner), scientific research (observation – non extractive), and the harvesting of edible birds nest (managed in a sustainable manner).
Some of these activities are compatible and can be combined. In PSFR some of these activities will also overlap. For example, recreation & ecotourism can overlap with edible birds nest collecting, and tourism can overlap with research or forest restoration activities. For the purpose of conducting these activities in an organised (controlled) manner, zoning is still seen as necessary in the PSFR. Zoning in PSFR will highlight “what” activities are suitable in “which” locations throughout the reserve. Zoning in PSFR will also help focus management interventions, and help channel funds into appropriate places. In the case of recreation & tourism, different types of recreation activities are best separated (exclusionary). For example, wildlife observation, which requires minimal disturbance, is not compatible with other more noisy activities such as school camps or education programs.
The MESCOT initiative was developed with support from, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism and Environment Development (as it was known at the time), in close cooperation with the Sabah Forestry Department. The initiative was given the mandate to assist the local community to plan ecotourism activities, and build local human capacity to be able to manage these activities.
The community-based ecotourism activities were operationalised in the year 2000, and the program received its first visitors in June 2000. The core activities run by the community include; river boat wildlife cruises, forest nature walks, ethnobotany interpretation, wildlife observation (day & night), tree planting (and other related habitat restoration activities), and more general nature education activities. A key activity established by the community was the village homestay program. Additional activities for visitors to the village homestay include; learning how to cook local cuisine, building traditional fish traps, dressing up in traditional costumes, and participating in cultural rituals and local special events (such as weddings). Combined together, the nature-based and cultural activities form a unique attraction, and an attractive basis for foreign tourists to visit the area. Today the ecotourism program at Batu Puteh is well known in Sabah, and highly spoken of in a number of key tourism guidebooks and websites.
Homestay & Cultural Programme
- Cooking Lessons
- Traditional Games
- Traditional Music & Dance