Forest Significant and Conservation among the Semaq Beri Tribe of Orang Asli in Terengganu State, Malaysia

Abdullah, Ramle; Acciaioli, Greg; Hafizah Ramle, Nur; Mat Rasat, Mohd Sukhairi
May 2014
Australian Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences;May2014, Vol. 8 Issue 7, p386
Academic Journal
Background: The Orang Asli are an indigenous ethnic group found in peninsular Malaysia. It is estimated that more than 60% of them reside within outskirt and rural areas. These types of settlement areas are commonly synonymous with forest environments. The Semaq Beri tribe in Terengganu state are one of such aforementioned communities living in such environments. Their lives are largely dependent on the forests as a source of sustenance and livelihood. In other words, their lives are closely linked with forests or the biodiversity associated to it. Objective: A study had been conducted to fathom the thoughts of the Semaq Beri tribe regarding the forests based on the following questions; (i) What is the status of the forest and what are their perspectives on it, (ii) How significant are the forests in the daily lives of community members, and (iii) What is the attitude towards ensuring the sustainability of the forest. The study data were gathered through observation techniques, participation observation as well as interviews. Results: The study results showed that the Semaq Beri tribe possess their own distinctive thoughts on the forest environment and life. Among others, the forest or biodiversity is believed to be a gift from the supernatural powers and is alive, similar to humans. The forests were created by the supernatural powers for the benefit and harmony of human life, namely to provide necessities such as sustenance, livelihood, medicine as well as other various resources. Conclusion: Based on this status, the forest is often likened similar to a 'bank', an institution were individuals store their wealth, and which this wealth can be withdrawn whenever necessary. Based on such a perception also leads to the Semaq Beri tribe's approach in ways of exploiting, conserving and safeguarding the sustainability of the forest so that its benefits will not only be enjoyed by the current generation, but also for generations to come.


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