Wehea Dayak Forest Guardians: Becoming Men and Protecting Health
The Wehea Dayak of East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo protect and monitor an abandoned timber concession within their territory as a reserve for their people to collect non-timber forest products and maintain spiritual balance. Young Wehea men are selected and trained to be “Forest Guardians” and they walk the borders of the protected forest to prevent illegal logging and hunting. Elders and knowledge holders join the young men and teach them about Wehea Dayak traditions. Working in the forest has become a rite of passage for young Wehea Dayak men, and they are treated with respect in the community because they learn how to survive in the forest and protect resources that are being rapidly lost throughout Wehea territory due to logging and palm oil plantations. The Wehea describe the protected forest as their way of ensuring that they will be able to continue to live healthy and good lives.