Plans are underway to develop Bukit Teraja in Mukim Labi into an eco-tourism attraction with emphasis on rainforest and wildlife preservation.

Primary Resources and Tourism Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Hj Apong said that the Tourism Development Department has identified Kampung Teraja as a potential site for sustainable tourism in Brunei.

“It is in the plans, but we don’t want to develop it into be a national park,” said the minister during a Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting on Thursday, in response to a proposal by LegCo member YB Hanapi Siput.

YB Dato Hj Ali said that the site will lean heavily on environmental preservation rather than destruction by mass tourism. “It will be a protected area for the survival of our rainforests, fauna as well as the traditions of the villagers,” the minister added.

He also said that the site could also be a sanctuary for endangered wildlife, including those from neighbouring countries whose natural habitats are threatened.

An Iban girl in traditional dress at the Teraja longhouse in Mukim Labi, Belait. Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

Situated in Belait district, Bukit Teraja area has been designated as part of Brunei’s Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative. It’s rich and unique biodiversity has attracted conservationists, researchers and local tourists.

For years Teraja was only accessible by 4×4 vehicles, until 2001 when the government paved an asphalt road and installed direct electricity for the small Iban community that stayed in the longhouse.

Since then, the residents have been trying to encourage more visitors to the remote settlement, and last year partnered with local tour company Sakam Adventure to bring in tourists keen to experience Iban culture and explore the nearby waterfalls.

In 2017, Teraja drew close to 4,000 visitors.