Sustainability Practices in Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Nestled strategically along the Danum River, approximately 10 kilometres to the northwest of Danum Valley Conservation Area, lies Borneo Rainforest Lodge. But this is no ordinary retreat; it’s a portal to a world unlike any other. Imagine it: you’re cocooned within the embrace of a primordial rainforest, a living testament to millions of years of wild history. Here, nature’s most extraordinary dramas unfold, featuring a star-studded cast of Borneo’s most iconic and endangered species.

Yet, our commitment towards nature experience and luxury hospitality extends far beyond the plush comforts and exquisite attention to detail. Here, amidst the pristine wilderness, we’ve embraced a sacred covenant with the environment, a pledge to tread lightly while leaving a profound mark. Our approach to sustainability is nothing short of holistic. Come find out how we marry nature and luxury for a sustainable nature escapade.

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By the People, to the People

At Borneo Rainforest Lodge, we are dedicated to empowering our local communities. Our goal is to offer an authentic Bornean adventure through a combination of hospitality and nature experiences. We actively seek out enthusiastic individuals from our local community, including recent fresh college graduates, providing them with an educational and hands-on training in the intricacies of the hospitality industry. This not only enhances their value in the realm of hospitality but also encourages them to pursue long-term careers in this field.

Furthermore, Borneo Rainforest Lodge places a strong emphasis on nature education, particularly for our Nature Guides. Guides are often the front-liners of information dissemination in the tourism industry, and given our location in one of the world’s most biodiverse environments, we prioritise ongoing nature education to refine their interpretative skills. Through specially curated monthly training sessions conducted by professionals in the field, our Nature Guides elevate their roles beyond just guiding, theoretically opening doors to a broader array of opportunities in the realms of conservation and tourism.

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Sustainable by Design

An eco-conscious approach is even considered in the architectural design of the Main Lobby and Chalets. This design concept leverages the principle of cross ventilation to harness natural breezes as demonstrated by the high ceilings of the Main Lobby; coupled with expansive windows in our chalets, strategically positioned to not only enjoy the shifting mist in the morning but more importantly, to reduce reliance on artificial lighting as it allows for more natural light in the chalet – all with the initiative to reduce energy usage.

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Furthermore, as part of our comprehensive environmental initiatives, our landscaping team diligently cultivates native plant species in the vicinity of the Lodge. Not just for the aesthetics, this deliberate choice to prioritise native vegetation serves a more crucial purpose that greatly enhances the guest experience – How? The planting of native flora has a profound impact on the local wildlife. These native plants provide crucial food sources and habitat for a wide range of Bornean fauna. As a result, our surroundings become a magnet for wildlife visits, increasing the likelihood of our guests encountering Borneo’s diverse and captivating wildlife up-close!

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Waste management

We have adopted a recycling program which involves the segregation of inorganic wastes from not only the Lodge, but also the staff on-board. The segregated wastes are later sold off in local recycling centres and the earnings are then invested back into a monthly environmental training programme for colleagues. Organic wastes, on the other hand, are routinely collected, weighed and further processed to be composted into fertilisers which the landscaping team uses in their nursery.

Guests will soon be able to see for themselves as the facility housing these green practices will be open for visits and demonstrations for guests who wish to learn more on environmental sustainability management in Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Chemical-free wastewater treatment

This eco-conscious commitment extends to our water supply and wastewater management. We’ve invested in an extensive filtration system that operates without the use of any chemicals. This system incorporates a series of backwash sand filters and UV ray treatments to eliminate harmful microorganisms from our water before it’s delivered for use at the Lodge. Consequently, our water supply, from the river to the tap, remains free of any chemical treatments and is entirely safe to drink.

But what about the responsible treatment of wastewater without causing any pollution? We manage wastewater internally through the use of Effective Microorganism (EM) Mudballs, which employ natural ingredients such as EM Bokashi and molasses among others to create a compound that neutralises and breaks down human effluent. This treated wastewater is then channelled into a filtering bed. Importantly, we never discharge our wastewater into the river, thus ensuring that we avoid any potential river pollution.

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Green Practice Session with Guests

Speaking of EM mudballs, our guests are also afforded the opportunity to actively participate in the making of the mudballs. A dedicated session within the sustainability program, aptly named the “Green Practice Session” allows guests to delve into the comprehensive sustainability initiatives implemented in Borneo Rainforest Lodge. During this session, guests can engage hands-on in crafting EM mudballs and even partake in handcrafting their own soap bars, which they can later take home with them! Our soap bars are crafted in-house, utilising recycled cooking oil collected from the kitchen as a primary ingredient – the Green Practice Session makes for a great additional activity especially for families.

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Community outreach

Borneo Rainforest Lodge proudly maintains an active Corporate Social Responsibility team dedicated to implementing impactful initiatives for local communities and schools. These programs serve a dual purpose by not only benefiting the immediate community but also by fostering greater awareness about environmental conservation and sustainability principles. By doing so, we hope to inspire future generations to become stewards of the environment, fostering a culture of responsibility and care for our natural surroundings. In the future, we plan to further invest in our obligations to give back to the community by adopting a school program from the nearby community.

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We further extend the support for local empowerment through sustainable sourcing by the procurement of local products. We are proud to showcase our local talents, tastes, and traditions by serving local cuisine all made with locally-procured ingredients in every meal. By extending the stories of local businesses, we are also indirectly telling the stories of our culture and people.

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A Hand in Conservation

The Danum Orangutan Research Project (DORP) is an ongoing study of orangutan ecology, and with Borneo Rainforest Lodge serving as the primary research site, this project is a collaboration between the Wildlife Research Centre at Kyoto University and the Sabah Foundation. They have a dedicated building where local research assistants would stay and conduct routine research activities. Since its establishment in 2010, the project has remained a crucial tool for understanding orangutan ecology and their management in conservation. Consequently, Borneo Rainforest Lodge supports DORP by promoting awareness of its significance to our guests and communicates sustainable solutions that supports both tourism activities and orangutan conservation.

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By Borneo Nature Tours

Last reviewed: October 2, 2023

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