Tree for Life at Borneo Jazz Festival 2014

By Mallika Naguran

Miri, 8 May 2014. While Sarawak’s pristine forests are being stripped away with increasing deforestation for timber and agricultural produce, new trees are often planted at the most unexpected events.

YK Samarinda band hailing from Kalimantan hope their sapling planted will make a tiny difference to the atmosphere.

The Borneo Jazz 2014 resorts to tree planting seemingly as an initiation rite to the two-day music festival in Miri, Sarawak. The aim is to to make up for the festival’s carbon footprint and consumption of resources. Local and international performers of the yearly jazz festival got digging into this leafy gig along with students of the school.

Tenby International School, the partnering institution with Sarawak Tourism Board, got into action as well, replacing Curtin University of Technology, which helped plant new trees at the jazz event in Miri in the last three years.

Miri City Council provided the hundred odd sapplings, which were planted on the school grounds.

Officiating the event was Dato’ Rashid Khan, chief executive officer of Sarawak Tourism Board. “Sarawakians are proud to have the world’s oldest tropical rainforests and they along with our efficient sustainable forest management are valuable tourism assets and a legacy we are but custodians of,” he said.

Cubans who are Vocal Sampling artistes at Borneo Jazz 2014 tree planting ceremony

“At Borneo Jazz, renowned jazz musicians and fans from all over the world come together to celebrate jazz music amidst a lush, green tropical paradise. Let’s show the world that we intend to keep it that way for generations to follow,” added Dato’ Khan.

The organisers of the music festival intended to carry out "green practices" at this event as well, but it was difficult to spot them out. Plastic bags and polysterene containers were given out freely with purchase of food or souvenirs at the event, and no bins were in sight for recyclable materials. All kinds of trash were picked up from the ground, bagged together and left for the waste treatment company to pick up the next day.

Were recyclable materials sorted out then and processed into new materials? Your guess is as good as mine. Festivals, like any other mega events, have huge environmental footprint which has to be dealt with responsibly. And responsible tourists should play a part by minimizing trash output. So I crushed my plastic bottles and took them home to Singapore for recycling (watch Gaia Discovery "Pack Home Your Trash" video on this page).

Wine consumption was a little different though, with a reusable plastic carafe being offered to guests who return them to the store at the festival grounds after use for a small refund. I was just too glad to partake of this (plus the Sauvignon Blanc was good too).

There is much more that the festival could do further to green the event. Perhaps it could win a green award some day.

But this greening journey certainly begins with planting new trees, which it has, to bring new awareness of just how precious the environment is to children, youths, musicians, and to the everybody else reading this piece.

Tree planting ceremony at Borneo Jazz 2014 officiated by Dato' Rashid Khan of Sarawak Tourism Board and Philip Brisley, Principal of Tenby International School head.

Photos courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board.

Join Borneo Jazz musicians at the festival's tenth anniversary celebrations and big bang festival in May 2015. It will be extra special, so be there. Air Asia has direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Miri and stay at the Parkcity Everly Hotel for the best view of the festival and the sea.

How to deal with plastic water bottles as a traveller? Watch Gaia Discovery "Pack Home Your Trash" video here.