The Sabah government through Sabah Parks had in 2004, allocated 403 hectares of land referred to as the Zon Kegunaan Komuniti (ZKK) in the Crocker Range Park to keep its native community in the area, said Sabah Parks deputy director Dr Maklarin Lakim.
He said the first village with 450 residents, all native inhabitants from Ulu Senagang, Baru Baru, Keningau, would continue living in the ZKK, also seen as a model village.
He added that there were plans to come up with such villages in the state’s other parks.
The ZKK was “a sustainable development plan” created by the state government that allowed native inhabitants to continue living in Sabah’s parks for continuity without any interruption, he said.
"Sabah is the first state in the country to implement the ZKK plan and perhaps the world,” Dr Maklarin said, adding that it was the state’s foresight and “advanced” approach to allow those living in the park areas to remain there.
Dr Maklarin said the concept of ZKK was similar to the “satoyama” in Japan, but the ZKK plan was much better in that it encouraged the existing population to continue living in the interior and remote areas.
Under the “satoyama”, people from other areas were brought to live in areas surrounded by hills and mountains. They are expected to live in such areas using existing resources without disrupting the environment, he added.
Dr Maklarin said the ZKK plan among other things encouraged villagers to be self-sufficient by focusing on agriculture and tourism.
He added that the state would also assist by setting up basic infrastructural facilities, with a community centre and school.