Transitions in the Utilisation and Trade of Rattan in Sarawak: Past to Present, Local to Global

  • Yayoi TakeuchiEmail author
  • Atsushi Kobayashi
  • Bibian Diway
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


Rattan is a non-timber forest product important to both forest biodiversity and local livelihoods in Southeast Asia. In this chapter, we aim to understand the changing patterns of socioeconomic activities in local communities and in the global market, as well as human–nature interactions in Sarawak from the perspective of the transition of rattan utilisation from the past to the present. For the analysis, we employed a multidisciplinary approach using a socioecological survey and historical study, and set three spatial scales as a framework. First, we found that people recognise and make use of various rattan species based on the diversity of surrounding forests. The high diversity of rattan species in these forests supports the preservation of knowledge and culture, and local communities are able to acquire multiple benefits from the forests through rattan. Second, we show the effects of development on traditional knowledge and rattan use by comparing a rural village to villages close to more developed urban areas in which people use a limited number of rattan species because primary forests are no longer accessible. Utilisation of rattans in peri-urban villages has also changed, departing from the close relationship with primary forests that is vital for selecting and using particular rattan species for various needs. Third, we pay attention to the emergence of the regional market for rattan materials provided by a rattan-processing factory in the urban area of Bintulu. In suburban villages, inhabitants who have limited access to primary forests now buy machine-processed rattans for making crafts, possibly leading to a decline of traditional knowledge and the culture of rattan in these communities. Finally, we discuss the trajectory of rattan exports from Sarawak on a global scale over the last 150 years. From the late nineteenth century onwards, rattan exports for the global market enabled local people to gain commercial profits, and we confirm that such a trade connection has lasted through the boom of rattan exports from Sarawak in the mid-1980s. As such, this local to global, past to present study of rattan shows that Sarawak’s highly biodiverse society, which depends on various kinds of natural resources from primary forests, has altered in response to the impacts of the world economy and land-use change over the last two centuries.


Sarawak Rattan Trade Traditional knowledge Land-use change Indigenous people 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yayoi Takeuchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Atsushi Kobayashi
    • 2
  • Bibian Diway
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem StudiesNational Institute for Environmental StudiesTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Center for Southeast Asian StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Botanical Research CentreSarawak Forestry CorporationKuchingMalaysia

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