Designing, Building and Maintaining Ecotourism Facilities" Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Mr Albert Teo, Managing Director, Sukau Rainforest Lodge


Definition of Ecotourism
“Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations”

Ceballos-Lascurain, 1993 IUCN Ecotourism Program


Sukau Rainforest Lodge

1) Environmentally Responsible Travel

2) Nature Based including Culture

3) Ecologically sustainable and promotes conservation

4) Education and interpretation

4) Benefits the local community


Six Kinds of Capital

Natural Capital – arable land, healthy soil, biodiversity.

Infrastructure Capital – Road, water, sanitation, airport, telecom.

Public Institutional Capital – law, judiciary, gov. services, policing, enforcement.

Human Capital – Health, skills, nutrition.

Business Capital – Machinery, facilities, equipment.

Knowledge Capital – Science/Technology.

* Reference: The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs 2005


Some critical issues Personal and Team Experience.

Initial Research and Planning.

Expert Advice – architect, forestry & wildlife experts, local boatmen, fishermen, local knowledge.

Local conditions – rainfall, temperature, humidity, flood, culture and religion, wildlife migration, public utilities.

Technologies and back-up services.

Human, Business and Knowledge capitals.


Sukau Rainforest Lodge Green Policies

1) Electricity and lighting – solar, hot water, oil lamp, fan, minimal energy consumption, generator.

2) Water usage – rainwater harvesting, river water, hot water system, minimal water consumption.

3) Disposal of waste – septic tanks, cooking oil, used diesel and recycling bins.

4) Noise – open lounge concept, no TV, radio, no air-condition, acoustic generator, electric motor.

5) Safety and Cleanliness – no eating in room, CCTV, walkie talkie, CB radio, fire extinguishers, life jackets on boats.

6) Design and construction – away from river, on stilts, open concept, minimal footprint.

7) Local community participation – employment, language and skills training. 8. Community and 8) Environment projects – SERDC/ BEST; guest donation and SRL allocation of USD1 per international guest; BET allocation.

9) Education and interpretation – nature education centre, booklets, in-room files, room and bathroom information, slide show and guided walks.

10) History Water Harvesting & Heating Facilities

Hornbill Boardwalk
1) Education and interpretation of the rainforest. (booklet)
2) Safety from falling branches and all weather use.
3) Minimal impact on wildlife migration and vegetation.
4) Open deck for wildlife viewing and privacy.

Melapi Restaurant
1) Minimal disturbance on riverine vegetation.
2) Covered and open deck to provide for different weather conditions.
3) To have 180 degrees view of the river.
4) To provide dual purpose as jetty.
5) To make allowance for low and high flood water level and esthetic beauty.

Guiding Principles
1) Authentic experience but acceptable level of comfort – toilet, bedroom, food, activities.
2) Local community empowerment and self determination.
3) Management, technical, service level, marketing, pricing.

Development Plan Proposal

1) Confirmation of Building Location

  • Development plan proposal

2) Zoning Plan

3) Design Concept Proposal

  • Over all concept

  • Eco-Sustainable concept

  • Building design concept

  • Schematic building design

4) Proposal for Material Use

5) Design Images

Design Concept
1) Altitude, weather, humidity, temperature, rainfall.
2) Terrain, view and vegetation.
3) Local resources – flora, people and culture, food.
4) Attractions.
5) Market segments and level of comfort and facilities.
6) Budget constraints and experience.