From 1995, due to poor accessibility of the lodge from the main village of Sukau, we had no government electricity and water supply. So we had to come up with a guideline to cope with our unique challenges. These soon evolved into our Green Policies on 5 areas namely.
- ELECTRICITY AND LIGHTING
- WATER USAGE
- WASTE MANAGEMENT
- NOISE, SAFETY AND CLEANLINESS
- DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
- LOCAL COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
- COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT PROJECTS
- EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION
Electricy and Lighting
- All 20 of our Superior Rooms and 20 new Borneo Villas are equipped with energy saving light bulbs and inverter air-conditioners.
- Since 1995, our lodge has been completely self-reliant on energy supply until 2008, when we started using government electrical supply 12 hours daily, with backup from our own generators for our power demand.
- Our garden and corridors are lit up by diesel oil lamps. We also recycle our cooking oil to light lamps in our restaurant area to provide a romantic and cosy ambiance.
- The hot water in all our superior rooms are supplied by 4 units of 78.69 gallons of Crystal Solar Heating Systems
- Part of our Green & Sustainable Practices is encouraging guests to switch off all lights and air-conditioner before they leave their rooms.
- Our Gecko Lounge and Melapi Restaurant use open-concept design which allows for natural daylight and air circulation around the area, replacing the need to use air-conditioner, and maximizing day time breeze.
- We practice rainwater harvesting, which makes our lodge 100% self-reliant on water. The rainwater harvested is filtered and chlorinated for kitchen use, shower and washing purposes. Even our three dip pools are using water from our rain harvesting system.
- As part of our Green and Sustainable Practices we encourage guests to conserve water by minimizing flushing the toilet and making use of the dual flushing system when they flush.
- We also encourage guests to turn off the water taps and shower when not in use. Water reducing valves are also installed in shower heads.
- To reduce our carbon footprint, we do not normally replace guests' towels and linens when they are staying at the lodge for only 2 nights. (All linens had to be sent to Sandakan for cleaning). We will only replace them upon request.
- Our Lodge is equipped with Sewerage Treatment Plant STP and nothing except clean treated water is discharged into the ground.
- Our Lodge is Travelife Gold Certified since 2018 and we have formed an inhouse Sustainability Committee to implement those guidelines.
- Our lodge uses BioSolv Treatment System, which is a greener and better alternative in sewage treatment. This modern environmentally-friendly system minimizes the impact of water pollution.
- As part of our Green & Sustainable Practices, littering around the lodge is prohibited. We also encourage guests and staff to recycle their recyclable items and place them into the recycling bins located at the open deck of our lodge. Organic materials are turned into compost, while non bio-degradable materials are separated and sent to Sandakan for sale, disposal and recycling.
- Since 2019, we have banned the use of single use plastic straws and replaced these with bamboo straws which we ordered from a community in Kiulu Farmstay. We have also banned the use and sale of single use plastic mineral water bottles by encouraging our guests to bring along their own water bottle, which they can reuse and refill for free anytime from the water dispensers located around our lodge. We subscribe to refillmybottle campaign at www.refillmybottle.com
Noise, Safety and Cleanliness
- We want our guests to truly step-out to experience and enjoy all of nature and its wonders, which is why our rooms are not equipped with radio and television.
- Our boats for river safari cruises to and from the lodge are equipped with portable Yamaha 4- Stroke outboard engines. Its low-noise performance and zero-emission minimizes noise, pollution, and reduces the stress on wildlife and passengers.
- The electric motor can only be used in smaller tributaries or whenever the current is not strong and the time of usage depends on the current flow during the cruise.
- As a safety precaution, guests must wear their life jacket at all times when on river cruises and boat rides. There are also crocodiles in the water.
- Guests are prohibited from smoking and burning any materials inside the room. Charging of commercial/TV batteries is also prohibited in the room.
- Fire extinguishers are located along the verandas outside your rooms.
- Guests are not allowed to eat in the room as this will attract ants and long tailed macaques.
- Feeding of wildlife especially long tailed macaques is prohibited. They can get aggressive. This can also risk their health.
- Keep a safe distance from any wildlife. 20 meters for orangutans, and 30 meters for elephants.
Design and Construction
- The Lodge is built 100ft away from the river bank (except for Melapi Jetty) and outside the riparian reserve to prevent storm water soil erosion. Native vegetation is left intact to provide natural shade, to minimize impact of noise, and provide maximum privacy to the in-house guests.
- The Lodge is built on stilts five feet above ground to minimize impacts of flooding of the Kinabatangan River and keep insects, animals, and reptiles out of the rooms. Hornbill boardwalk is built on stilts and is covered for added protection from falling rotting branches while Kari and Attenborough boardwalks are open for better wildlife viewing.
- Passive cooling design and exhaust fans installed to extract hot air above ceilings to enhance indoor thermal comfort of the Lodge with low energy consumption. Roofs of Superior rooms are painted white for lesser absorption of heat during daytime.
- An open concept is adopted for the Gecko lounge and Melapi restaurant to allow for unrestrained air circulation and ventilation, thus minimizing the use of air-conditioners.
- The Lodge is built with local hardwood species, including Belian (Borneo ironwood) for stilts, boardwalks, open decks and pillars; mangrove for railings; Merbau and Selangan Batu for covered decks and balconies; Nyatoh for room furniture and fixtures.
Local Community Participation
- Where possible we give priority on employment opportunities to the local community. The jetty, plank walks, open deck, wall panelling, wooden benches, and deck tables/chairs are all testimony of their capabilities. 40% of our staff are Kinabatangan areas while over 90% are local indigenous.
- Senior staff were recruited from outside to transfer their skills to the locals and to help provide consistent services. Most of the local staff could not speak English when they joined us. In response we have instituted training and brought in overseas tourism student interns to help them understand different cultures and needs of the tourists, to develop communication skills, and speak English. A few staff have been sent for nature guide training. We hope we have trained them to run the Lodge to your expectations and maximized their natural ability as wildlife spotters for the river cruises and jungle walks.
- The management also encourages ongoing personal development including book reading and a mentoring program that provides leadership training for local staff.
- Your patience and encouragement for any shortcomings will go a long way in helping the staff to overcome shyness, language, and cultural barriers.
Community and Environment Projects
- Since 2000 our community and environmental profit society, Sukau Ecotourism Research and Development Centre SERDC (renamed Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies BEST Society), has organized many projects. That include supplying over 90 water tanks to local families, three medical camps, and the ongoing Kinabatangan Wildlife Corridor Rehabilitation Project (KWICORP).
- Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo Eco Tours contribute RM4.00 and RM8.00 respectively for every international guest (totalling RM50, 000.00/ USD 16,400 annually) who stays at the lodge in addition to contribution from guests. We started collecting RM 20.00 per guest as conservation levies in 2009; this goes towards the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Tourism Operators Association (KiTA) and BEST Society to enhance conservation along the Kinabatangan.
Education and Interpretation
- An information gallery on the local flora and fauna has been set up to provide education for in-house guests. Additionally, our naturalist guides can provide additional interpretation of the rainforest around the Hornbill Boardwalk. A self guided free handbook on Kinabatangan Floodplain is also available in the room. Information about Conservation Fellows who have contributed to the conservation of the Kinabatangan region is also available in the room. Free back of the house sustainability guided tour is also available on request. A free pictorial colour guide of wildlife of Sabah is also made available to all guests.
- Additional information is available in our publication "Saving Paradise - The Story of Sukau Rainforest Lodge