The MESCOT initiative works in forest rehabilitation, ecotourism, and invasive species eradication to improve livelihood options for the community of Batu Puteh, in the Lower Kinabatangan region of Malaysia. This area has been documented on many occasions as a site of mega-biodiversity and stands out due to its high concentrations of lowland wildlife, particularly large mammals and primates – all ten species of Bornean primates are found in the area.
One of the key projects of MESCOT has been eradicating the invasive species Salvinia molesta. In 2001, floods introduced the species into Tungog Lake, used by the Batu Puteh community for fishing: within 16 months, the lake was completely covered. MESCOT mobilized a vast volunteer effort in 2005 to remove the weeds from the surface and bottom of this endangered freshwater habitat. Revenues from ecotourism have funded ongoing eradication efforts, in which regrowth is netted and used as an organic fertilizer in local farm plots.
Equator Prize Winner: 2004
Location: Sabah state, Malaysia
Beneficiaries: Village of Batu Puteh, Kinabatangan
Biodiversity: Forest, floodplain, and acquatic ecosystems
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