Two years ago the Semai in the Malaysian village of Ulu Geroh were enthusiastically promoting their new ecotourism business, but today it may be threatened by logging.

A news report on Friday, December 15th, in the Star Online from Malaysia indicated that the Semai are very concerned about a logging operation that is moving near their community forest where they show off to tourists the famous Rajah Brooke Birdwing moths and the unusual Rafflesia flowers. The logging has come dangerously near the 80 ha forested site where they have found more than 20 blooming locations for the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flowers.

News reports from nearly two years ago indicated that the local people had been trained in how to provide effective guiding services for tourists. They take visitors to see the Rafflesia when they are in bloom, they show them the moist spots in the forest where they know the Rajah Brooke Birdwings often gather, and they take them to see a waterfall. The tourists can stay in a nearby lodge.

Sani Sari, one of the Semai participants at a conference in Miri, told the Star newspaper that the community is worried because the logging is now only six kilometers from the area where the rare flowers bloom. Bah Azmi Ngporgi, another Semai representative, told the paper that the community is “working very hard to preserve these flowers. Our village has about 400 people and we are involved in tourism-related projects catering to a large number of tourists who are keen to see the rare flower.”

Both representatives are appealing to government officials in hopes they will save their forest. They were in Miri to attend a workshop on community forests sponsored by several major organizations.