Native Hands of Love

There are more than 28 sub-ethnic groups in Sarawak. Each of these ethnic groups inherited a rich array of traditional knowledge from their ancestors. This knowledge includes centuries of self-subsisting practices in their natural environment.

While many of the older generation in these communities still retain the traditional knowledge, there is a concern that the knowledge would be fast disappearing as a result of changing lifestyles, priorities, and the diminishing dependence on natural resources with the availability of modern amenities. 

Plant documentation done by the community

The community documenting the plants. Image source via Sarawak Biodiversity

Seeing the importance of documenting the knowledge (particularly utilization of biological resources) and retaining the heritage, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) has created the Traditional Knowledge (TK) Documentation Programme. With Prior Informed Consent (PIC) from participating communities, SBC works with the respective indigenous communities to document, study and develop a range of innovative products from the knowledge which has been handed down through generations. 

A Community Benefit Sharing Project 

Proudly Made in Sarawak and inspired by Indigenous Knowledge - A decade long collaborative dialogue on access, benefit sharing and documentation of indigenous traditional knowledge has led to the birth of a 100% pure natural essential oil from the highlands of Borneo’s 130 million-year-old tropical rainforest. 

 Harvesting of Litsea cubeba by the communities

Harvesting of Litsea cubeba by the communities Image source via Sarawak Biodiversity Center

Harvested through Good WildCraft Practice, the aromatic LitSara® pure essential oil is extracted through distillation from Litsea cubeba leaves and fruits. Various parts of the plant are traditionally used for food flavouring and as medication to treat stomachache. The fruits are also cooked with fish, while the dried fruits can be eaten. 

The leaves and fruits are handpicked with love by men and women from the Kelabit community of Pa’Ukat and Pa’Lungan in the Kelabit Highlands; Long Kerebangan and Long Telingan of Lun Bawang community in Lawas, and the Bidayuh community of Kampung Kiding in the Padawan Range where the plant grows naturally in the soil rich foliage spread across the gentle hills of the cool, breathtaking Borneo Highlands

LitSara® has also shown good antimicrobial and insect repellency properties, making it suitable as an active ingredient in personal care products. The range of products developed includes body wash, shampoo, soap, air freshener, sniff jar and aromatherapy essential oil. 

Litsara products

LitSara® products Image source via Sarawak Biodiversity Center

With a GI known as Sarawak Litsea, the LitSara® essential oil series is one-of-a-kind not found anywhere else in the globe! The premium quality oil is 100 % pure, free from synthetic chemicals, pesticides, solvents and additives. 

LitSara®’s aromatic, tropical wilderness fragrance, complemented with a citrusy hint instantly conjures a rush of exhilarating olfactory experience – instinctively rejuvenating the body, mind and soul. As the saying goes, ‘Mother Nature has the best to offer’. 

If you are an eco-conscious consumer, this is the perfect gift to make a positive difference towards sustainable development. With Borneo’s biodiversity and indigenous traditional knowledge conservation at the heart of every LitSara®’s package, each gift is sure to make the giving more memorable and meaningful. 

For every purchase of the LitSara®, the proceeds will be shared equitably with the participating Borneo Highlands indigenous communities.
Each sale is a celebration of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge from the heart of the oldest tropical rainforest in the world – Borneo. 

 Log on to www.litsara.com to purchase online or visit www.sbc.org.my for more info. 

An Original Of WADD’s (previously Happenings in Sarawak) Article 

In Collaboration With Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC)

The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) was set up by the State Government in 1998 to initiate programmes for the conservation, utilization, protection and sustainable development of biodiversity in Sarawak. 

Back then, the centre’s role was primarily inventory and regulatory – often known as the gatekeeper to Sarawak’s rich biodiversity to those who wanted access to and collection of biological resources in the State for research purposes. 

After the revision of the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre Ordinance in the year 2003, SBC was entrusted as the centre to initiate intensive biotechnology-based research and product development on Sarawak’s vault of diverse biological resources. 


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