Responsible Travel Policy
History & Background
In 2007, it was decided to build the Eco Camp & Lodge “Sumbiling Eco Village”, in the mystical and breathtaking rainforest of Temburong, Brunei. Sumbiling Eco Village (SEV) is located right next to the Temburong river, near the Iban community of Sumbiling, hence its name and only 16 km south of Bangar which acts as the capitol of the Temburong district.
The construction started back in 2008 with the premise of being a sustainable ecotourism project in the long-run, respecting the traditions and architecture of the area, and taking into account the true inclusion of local
actors as well as an emphasis on a more self-reliant local community while recognizing the responsibility we have as world citizens to protect our environment and culture.
In this way, we manage to integrate the community of the village close to our setup and thus enhance the economic development of the area, reflected in an improved quality of life for the families in the area thanks to the introduction of eco-tourism. We are also committed to promoting sustainable business practices and development. Several green technologies have been adopted since the construction of our resort in 2009.
At Sumbiling Eco Village, we believe that both the environment and local community should benefit from our business. That does not mean we make a token donation here, or plant a couple of trees there. We want to produce real sustainable benefits.
Sustainability has been at the front of our minds since we conceived the Eco Camp. We work closely with our local community, and we listen to what they want from us. Some are employed at the Eco Camp. Many have received education and training here, and we support a few kids financially such as books and other materials. We think the surrounding village is doing better because we are here, and these are some of the reasons why:
Looking after our people
We employ about 9 people, almost exclusively from local villages. Locals stay close to our premises and hence, only need a few minutes to reach the Sumbiling Eco Village.
Each of our staff is led by a local employee. Thanks to the employment and education offered by SEV, locals are nowadays more familiar with an eco-approach to tourism and know how to handle tourists during their stay on our premises
Sharing our resources
We recognize that some of the resources we use to run our Eco lodge are also valuable to local people. Excess food is shared with locals. We ensure that all our recyclable materials are distributed locally. As part of our day to day running we have implemented several recycling projects reducing our waste output to a minimum. We also train our staff in recycling principles that they may input this knowledge within their own home and community.
We are also careful with our purchasing and sourcing decisions. We buy local whenever we can. Almost all of our food is bought at the local market and shops, as are our other supplies. We normally collect herbs and vegetables in the rainforest at our door steps. Our menu therefore always contains fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit. We also continue to work with our employees on reducing their detergent use – good for the environment and good for their overheads.
We are proud to say that our involvement with local schools has been found to be a welcome change for students and parents equally. Besides offering opportunities to volunteers to learn about their environment, collaborations and awareness building activities with schools throughout Brunei encourage us to even invest more time and struggle to protect our fauna and flora. Supplementary, our guides who normally come to us with little English and mostly no experiences in hospitality and guiding experience can practice their newly gained knowledge with them, educate the kids about species of any kind.
By the end of 2017 we are planning to organise an awareness campaign building strategic alliances with academic professionals, cultural institutions, conservationists and media and the garnering of an international eco-cultural market share boosting Brunei’s ecotourism potential even further.
Most of our staff, are from nearby villages and wherever possible materials used in the lodge are sourced locally. Our staff – we have 9 employees from Sumbiling Village actively involved – and guides are all locals from Brunei or ethnic minorities such as the “Iban”. Local guides from age 18 to 75 accompany tourists while exploring the village or the rainforest near our Sumbiling Eco Village.
We also work to provide opportunity for our staff to progress whilst working here. They may have come to us with limited education, but if they have talent and motivation we provide the education and training to help them succeed.
Nowadays, the locals are mainly operating the eco lodge, from welcoming tourists, cooking sessions and food preparation to guiding tourists through the rainforest. An intensive training throughout the past years enabled the local employees to work mostly on low supervision.
Sponsorships for uniforms and books, kitchen and maintenance trainings, to name a few, are inevitable in order to successfully improve the financial and educational situation among the locals as well as the overall operations of the eco lodge in Sumbiling.
Currently we are increasing the local involvement and knowledge to create handicraft products which can be sold to foreigners and local around Brunei and Malaysia, testing local food production and improve our own organic fertilizers and humus.Our long-term goal is to completely produce food not only sustainable but independently from other sources such as the local markets and supermarket.A proper farm to grow vegetables, aquaponics setups to raise fish and fields for friendly animal breeding (poultry).
In the near future, lighting, heating and power requirements draw from solar technology and we hope our lodge will serve as a model of how simple and easy the relevant technology is as this will help to improve the lives of the surrounding village and rural communities.
As result of our work in all of the previously mentioned areas Sumbiling Eco Village has strengthened its cooperation with the local government and is now not only recognized by Lonely Planet as an important destination to visit but also by the head of authorities as an important eco destination within Brunei.
We see our model as sustainable for our business, as well as the local community, so we are expanding. Together with other eco-friendly companies and in a partnership with a local minority families, we are now planning to open a new lodge by beginning of 2018.
The new lodge is a smaller homestay style lodge situated in a remote village near Tasik Merimbun. We will offer our guests the option to experience a very comfortable “homestay” style experience in combination with a stay at Sumbiling Eco Village. It’s proving to be a popular tour already, both with our guests and with the host village, another example of us putting sustainability into action.
Caring for the Environment
We keep electricity use to a bare minimum (please help us with that whilst you stay here). In fact, when we first started we tried to operate entirely on solar electricity, but the inconsistent supply means we now rely on the grid of Temburong. We are trying to get completely of the grid by the end of the year, latest Q1 in 2018. All waste from the kitchen and restaurant is sorted and separated. Food leftovers are given to the local farmers to feed their livestock or for our compost and fertilizer production, empty water bottles, cans and boxes are given to the local people to reuse in their households but we always try to make our visitors aware not to bring any plastic or other materials harmful for the environment into our camp. Our wastewater is treated and purified by organic filtering in septic tanks before being emitted to the surrounding soil. Therefore, we do not litter waste water into the natural habitat. Here are some more environmental activities of SEV:
We do recycle free-float / drift-wood and old timber and other forest products to build certain setup on our premises.
We do not allow illegal fishing or hunting activities and report illegal forest activities.
We follow a strict “no take away” policy for plants and shrubs while tourists hiking in the rainforest or during their stay at our camp.
We produce local tea and honey in collaboration with the villagers to increase income among locals and ourselves.
We mostly build with locally sourced wood and materials.
We are using only biodegradable cleaning products and in-room toiletries.
All guest amenities are environmentally friendly as we use and supply biodegradable laundry detergents, kitchen products and furniture soaps, oils, waxes etc.
A commitment to using locally foraged and harvested foods whenever possible.
We are also replanting our local area with indigenous trees and shrubs to protect local biodiversity. SEV also participates in external environmental activities such as “Clean up Brunei” or “Earth Hour” campaigns.
We also avoid the use of chemicals and toxins on our premises.
We are planting roughly 100 to 200 trees a year and are tring to increase it to 300 by end of 2018.
We are also testing new aquaponics setups to increase locally sourced fish and herbal production.
We are aiming to have roughly 100 trees (Papaya and Banana) as well as local coffee and fruit production up and running by end of 2018.
Furthermore, we seek the government to increase the protected area around the premises of Sumbiling Eco village in order to protect the Fauna and Flora to a higher degree.
Your contribution to the nature & culture
Your visit to Sumbiling Eco Village is not only an unforgettable experience, it is also an important contribution to the people who live in the neighborhood. During your stay in an environmentally friendly accommodation built in natural materials you will experience some of the local traditions and eat purely organic vegetables picked by you and the locals as well as food from the local markets. Be proud to maintain a low carbon footprint -together we preserve the nature and culture you have come to experience.
Sustainability is not only an ideal, a moving goal, something we're always working hard toward. Living and acting in a sustainable manner balances economic, social and ecological needs of all life with that of our own whilst improving those possibilities for future generations. Cherishing diversity, passion and creativity, sustainable living is not about growth of property or wealth but rather it's about developing livable communities and fostering better social and economic equity while preserving and restoring the ecosystems on which we depend for our very survival.
Besides the measures already in place, SEV is actively working on new ways to support the local communities, improve agricultural endeavors and promote an overall sustainable living. Future activities will include not only completely offset our carbon dioxide emissions caused by our energy use, live a fossil-fuel-free life and set-up an own rice production in the area of SEV but also an increase in locally grown vegetables, fish and poultry and a bigger focus on reforestation efforts in the area of SEV.