Bruno Manser Fonds
About Biosphere Reserve For Penans
The State Government has set aside 50,000 acres of forest land in the Ulu Baram near Tutoh for a Penan biosphere reserve, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud told newsmen during a press conference at the State Assembly yesterday.
BY James Ritchie
KUCHING, Wed. - The Sarawak State Government will establish a "biosphere reserve" in the Baram district to accommodate about 400 nomadic Penans who have difficulty in adapting to the modern lifestyle. Under the concept, the nomadic Penans will be able to live in a protected jungle area and make use of its resources, Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud said at a Press conference at the State Legislative Assembly today. They can live in the area for as long as they like until they decide to settle down in areas inhabited by more advanced natives. The Penan biosphere reserve will be established at the Ulu Melana protected area which covers 20,000 hectares of tropical rain forest. It is adjacent to the Mulu National Park. Tan Sri Taib said that the biosphere reserve would be one of the many topics to be brought to the attention of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) council meeting in Yokohama, Japan from Nov 16 to Nov 23, 1990. A Sarawak delegation headed by Sarawak Forestry director, Leo Chi, will be in the Malaysian team attending the meeting. The nine-man State delegation will be involved in discussions over the findings of an ITTO mission which carried out a seven-week study and came out with a report on sustainable forest management in Sarawak recently. The Sarawak delegation will also inform the ITTO council of changes in the logging programme. Among other things, the council will be told that Sarawak will: increase its permanent forest areas from 1.6 million hectares to six million hectares within the decade; reduce logging to below 10 million cubic metres of log production per year; and, lengthen the period of timber permits from five to 10 years so that loggers will slow down the process of falling trees and not go for quick profits. Tan Sri Taib said: "Generally speaking, I am quite satisfied with the report. It reflects the situation in Sarawak. The facts were well reported and reflected in the report." The ITTO had recommended that logging in Sarawak be reduced from its current rate of 13 million cubic metres per year to about 9.2 million cubic metres per year. It also warned that if logging was not reduced, Sarawak would run out of logs in years. The ITTO report also recommended that Sarawak strengthen its Forestry Department staff and improve the standard of catchment protection in hill production forest. However, Tan Sri Taib disagreed with certain facts cited by the ITTO. Tan Sri Taib said the ITTO recommendation to reduce log production to 9.2 million cubic metres was not correct as the estimate was based on logging carried out on both State land and permanent forest areas. The Chief Minister also pointed out that logging provided about 50,000 jobs and its spin off-effects benefited about 120,000 people. He said that it was not possible to stop logging in Sarawak because the State earned an average income of $600 million in logging revenue each year. "We cannot afford to stop logging now because we are a developing country," he said. Sarawak has 12.3 million hectares of land out of which 8.6 million hectares is forest. Of this, 4.6 million is permanent forest while the rest is State land.
MIRI-The Sarawak Penan Association has urged the government to establish forest reserves for the Penan people before irreversible damage is done by the logging companies. What the authorities need to answer is why the Penan's applications for communal reserves over the years have gone unanswered at a time when these very lands are being logged-out by the timber companies. "Although we have been told by the authorities that our applications are being processed, timber companies are logging these areas," said secretary general of the association Ajang Kiew. The amount of damage being done by the logging companies is affecting tile natural food supplies of the Penan people. Wild animals are being destroyed, along with the jungle and the rivers, once clear with abundant fish, are polluted. Subsequently , the health of the Penans is suffering. Although the government has set aside development assistance to the Penans amounting to $4.4 million over 3 years help remains limited. The association does appreciate the assistance given in the form of Zinc sheets and essential tools. However we doubt. that the assistance amounts to $4.4 million. Apart from the long house at Batu Butigan there is hardly any sign of other major projects being carried out, such as the proposed service centres," said Ajang Kiew. Furthermore the association has also asked the government to kindly have the respect to inform it of designated nature reserves. Encik Juwin Lehan, president of the association said, "We only hear about the reserves from stories told by locals and tourists we meet in the street. The government never discusses their existence and we of course only ever witness the logging activities in and around our land."
By Paulinne Ho
KUCHING - lie state government is still continuing talks to convince the Penans who opted to continue with their traditional nomadic way of life to settle In the', biosphere!. A vast 30,000-heetare piece of land has been marked for the biosphere in Ulu Melanak, Limbang, said the Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud. He is banking an at least 400 Penans to make the biosphere, which has all that are required to support their nomadic living, their home. Ale idea for the biosphere was hatched in view of the fact that Penans who wanted to remain as nomads may find the
activities such as timber logging not conductive to their way' life, said the Chief Minister. Within the biosphere, the Penans will be living in a world of their own without outside activities disrupting their lives, h6 said. Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Taib added that the inhabitants of the biosphere would be practically free to do anything they want' in the area, but on one condition. They will not be allowed to fell trees. Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Taib also blasted Sarawakians who help other nations to sell their own country in anti-logging activities. Calling them the country's Number 1 traitors, he said these people were only being made use of.
Twelve Sarawakians were found demonstrating for "SOS Sarawak" in Japan recently.
He said it is a wellknown fact, and the so-called environmentalists should realise that the most pollution in the world came from developed countries who dumped all kinds of poisons on mother earth.
He said if logging in Sarawak were to stop, it would also mean 100,000 jobs gone for its people.
And a high proportion of the rural folks who are very dependant on the timber industry would have to go back to shifting cultivation, cutting down trees in the slash-and-burn method. In fact, he said, more than half for the better because of timber activities. timber activities.
KUCHING, Tues. - Negotiations to persuade the Penans to settle in a "biosphere reserve" in Ulu Melana in the Baram district have started, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said today. The reserve between Limbang and Miri and near the Mulu National Park covers an area of about 30'000 ha of tropical forests. He said the State Committee on Penan Affairs headed by Datuk Haji Abang Johari bin Tun Abang Haji Openg started the negotiations last month. The Government negotiators are trying to persuade the 400 nomads to accept the reserves as their "new home" as well as encourage another 1'000 semi-settled Penans from settlements in other areas in Baram to move to Ulu Melana. There are about 6'000 semi-settled Penans living in about 50 settlements in Baram. Abdul Taib said: "They are scattered all over... I am encouraging them to settle in one big area without restricting their ability to wander about. It is up to them. If the authorities manage to convince them to settle in Ulu Melana then the Penans will have the jungle at their doorstep," he said. Penans, who agree to be relocated to the biosphere reserve will be able to utilise the forest as if it is their own, on a sustainable basis over a period of time until their society changes from nomadic to a settled one. Abdul Taib said that when he took over as Chief Minister of Sarawak 11 years ago, he had asked various native communities what they thought of the idea of putting the Penans under the federal based Jabatan Orang Asli. However, various native groups objected to this because they felt that categorising the Penans as "Orang Asli" was like looking down on this semi-nomadic community. "The problem of the Penans would have been much easier to handle if there were no objections by other tribes that they be put under the aborigines department. But since there were objections, I had to respect their decision." Abdul Taib also said that he had set aside about 1,4 million hectares of forest to be preserved for setting up national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. He said that this was possible because many people involved in traditional agricultural pursuits had switched to jobs in estates plantations and the manufacturing sector. "This means, that 1,4 million hectares of Sarawak's forests will have no logging." The State's policy to encourage downstream processing activities by making it compulsary to retain a percentage of logs for the local industries is being carried out according to plan. Abdul Taib estimated that by 1995 about 30 per cent of the State's raw logs would be compulsorily retained. "The retention is expected to reach 50 per cent by the year 2000." He was speaking at a Press conference in conjunction with the 11th anniversary of his chief ministership on Thursday.
The State Government has allocated 30,000 acres of land at Ulu Melana near Mulu in the Baram district for the Penan biosphere reserve. The allocation by the Ministry of Resource Planning was made last month to enable the 400 nomadic Penans to settle down in one viable community with the freedom to roam about the forest carrying out their traditional activities. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud disclosed yesterday at his office in Wisma Sumber Alam in Kuching during a press conference held in conjunction with his 11th anniversary of office. Datuk Patinggi Abdul Taib, who is also the Minister for Resource Planning, said the State Penan Affairs Committee would look into the positive response of the other 1,000 of the 5,000 semi-nomadics of the tribe to join the group. "There's ample room for them. The choice is theirs," he said.
by James Richie
The Sarawak Government has set aside several tracts of tropical rainforests totallying 55,700 hectares for the exclusive use of a group of 300 nomadic Penans in Baram and Ulu Limbang.
Among the"special Penan forests" are Ulu Magoh (5,600 ha), Ulu Tutoh (2,200 ha), Adang (5,000 ha), and Ulu Seridan (1,400 ha).
State Forestry Director Datuk Leo Chai told the New Straits Times that Sarawak set aside the virgin tropical rainforests for Penans to carry on with their hunting and gathering activities.
Apart from spending more than 6 million Ringgit in development programmes during the past six years, the Government has also allowed the nomadic Penans to use the Gunung Mulu National Park (covering 52,000 ha) for hunting.
"The Penans can practise their traditional way of life and also use timber from these forests for their domestic use but not for commercial purposes", Chai said.
He said the State authorities had also allowed the semi-settled Penans and those living in longhouse communities to use the Ulu Melana forest reserve (22,000 ha). Existing development programmes for the Penans include a Penan Service Centre at Long Kevok, medical and health services projects and agricultureal projects.
The State Government, which had established a RM 1 million Penan Development Fund, has also initiated a Penan Volunteers Service Corp where selected Penans were trained to help their peopie adjust to the changing times.
"Sarawak's indigenous people, including the Penans, make up about 70 percent of the State's population of 1.7 million. Their rights, like those of other indigenous people, are enshrined in the Federal Constitution," Chai said.
He added that his department would continue to initiate programmes that benefited the indigenous people.
Chai stressed it was Sarawak's policy to improve the peopie's weifare and offer the ethnic groups opportunities to participate in socio-economic development.
This is to free the people from diseases, mainutrition and illteracy.
"Special attention have been given not only to the nomads but also those who have settled in longhouses over the past three decades because they have been left behind by other ethnic groups in socio-economic development."
The 1 0,000 Penans are part of Sarawak's 26 ethic groups (there are 50 more dialectal groups) and are spread out in 87 villages mostly in Baram, Belaga, Miri-Bintulu and Limbang.
All the 300 nomads are found in Baram while the Penans in Limbang and the Belaga are semi-settied in longhouse communities. The Penans in Miri-Bintulu are no longer nomadic.
Move will allow the nomads to live in traditional way
KUCHNG - The Sarawak government has set aside several tracts of tropical rainforests for the exclusive use of a group of 300 nomadic in Baram and Ulu Limbang. State forestry director Datuk Leo Chai said that Sarawak set aside the virgin tropical rainforests with an Area of 65,700 ha for Penans to carry on with their hunting and gathering activities. Apart from spending more than M$ 6 million (S$ 3,7 million) in development programmes during the past six years, the government has also allowed the nomadic Penan to use the Gunung Mulu national Park for hunting. The Park covers an area of 52.000 ha. Among the.special Penan forests set . aside for the scheme are Ulu Magoh (5600 ha), Ulu Tutoh (2200 ha), Adang (5000 ha) and Ulu Seridan (1400 ha).
"The Penans can practice their. traditional way of life and also use timber from these forests for their domestic use but not for commercial purposes," Datuk Chai said in an interview.
He said the state authorities had also allowed the semi-settled Panans and those living in longhouse communities to use the Ulu Melana forest reserve.
Development programmes for the Penan include a Penan service centre at Iong Kevok and medical and health and agricultural service projects. The state government, which had established a M$1 million Penan development fund, has also initiated a Penan Volunteers Service Corp where selected Penans would be trained to help the people to adjust to the changing times.
Sarawak's indigenous peoples including the Penans make up about 70 per cent of the states population of 1.7 million. "Their rights, like those of other Indigenous people, are-enshrined in the federal Constitution," Datuk Chai said, adding that his department would continue to initiate programmes that would benefit them.
He added that it was Sarawak's policy to improve the people's welfare and to offer the ethnic groups opportunities to participate in socio-economic development. "This is to free the people from diseases, malnutrition and illiteracy," he said. According to him, special attention has also been given to those who have settled in longhouses over the last three decades because they have been left behind by other ethnic groups in socio-economic development.
The 10,000 Penans are part of Sarawak's 26 ethnic groups and are spread out in 87 villages, mostly in Baram, Belaga, Miri-Bintulu and Limbang. - NST.
October 19, it was reported that the Sarawak State Government has set aside 65.700 hectares of tropical rainforests for the use of a group of Penan in Baram and Ulu Limbang. This is the first time the areas and location concerned were publicly announced. However. the legal status of these -special Penan forests' is unclear. The Sarawak Forest Ordinance provides for -communal forests' to be gazetted while the Land Code recognises native customary rights (NCR) over land. which include rights to forests. It appears that the areas announced for Penan use do not fall into either category and thus have no legal status. The security of these areas on a permanent basis Is thus highly doubtful. Furthermore. over 800/o of the area In question actually comprises the Gunung Mulu National Park. Given that national parks are already designated as protected areas. this in effect means that no additional areas are being set aside. SAM Is seeking official confirmation as to the nature and types of uses permitted In this case, since most activities are prohibited within the park In view of Its protected status. - Numerous communities of semi-settled Penan live in these areas. and it is not clear what their rights are. The newspaper report says that they are allowed to use the Ulu Melana forest reserve, but to SAM's knowledge logging concessions have already been Issued where this forest reserve is concerned.
Nevertheless, we have been informed that tracts within Ulu Melana have been set aside. where logging Is prohibited. SAM is requesting official clarification regarding exactly which areas are being referred to. the details of the Penan's access as well as any conditions upon which such access is based. The issue of access rights for non-nomadic Penan who do not live in the vicinity of Ulu Melana forest reserve still remains to be addressed. Although these natives are semi-settled they also face problems farming. and still rely on the forest for many of their needs.
The fundamental issue at stake Is the access rights of native conununities to forest resources. The creation of communal forests under the state's Forest Ordinance would legally secure these rights as areas would be set aside to allow communities use of the forests for their domestic needs. However. communal forests constitute a very small portion of forest areas In Sarawak. Between 1968 and 1984 this area shrank from 303 sq km to only 56 sq km. a reduction of 82%, thus depriving the natives from having access to forest produce in the vicinity of their communities. To SAM's knowledge over 40 applications for the establishment of communal forest reserves have been sent by -rlous native communities in the Baram. ulu Limb;ing and Belaga districts. but to date no new reserves have been declared. Worse, the Minister can at any time terminate the existing reserves. and he has already done so In the past. In order to help ensure nattves'access to forests. the State authorities should look into surveying, demarcating and recording the boundary of the natives'communal land and forest in line with the areas they traditionally and currently use for residence, hunting, gathering, burial grounds and other functions.
The New Straits Time of 19 October reported that the Sarawak state government has set aside 65'700 hectares of tropical rainforests for the use of a group of Penans in Baram and Ulu Limbang. Fr the first time, the areas and location concerned were publicly announced. The article is attached.
Legal status of Penan reserves
However, the legal status of these "special Penan forests" is unclear. The Sarawak Forest Ordinance provides for "communal forests" to be gazetted while the Land Code recognises native customary rights (NCR) over land, which include rights to forests. It appears that the areas announced for Penan use do not fall into either category and thus have no legal status. The security of these areas on a permanent basis is thus highly doubtful.
Nature of access to Gunung Mulu National Park
Furthermore, over 80% of the area in question actually comprises the Gunung Mulu National Park. Given that national parks are already designated as protected areas, this in effect means that no additional areas are being set aside.
SAM is seeking official confirmation as to the nature and types of uses permitted in this case, since most activities are prohibited within the park in view of its protected status.
Access to the Ulu Melana forest reserve/access of semi-settled Penans
Numerous communities of semi-settled Penans live in these areas and it is not clear what their rights are. The newspaper report says that they are allowed to use the Ulu Melana forest reserve but to SAM's knowledge logging concessions have already been issued where this forest reserve is concerned.
Nevertheless, we have been informed that tracts within Ulu Melana have been set aside, where logging is prohibited. SAM is requesting official clarification regarding exactly which areas are being referred to, the details of the Penans' access as well as any conditions upon which such access is based. The issue of access rights for non-nomadic Penans who do not live in the vicinity of Ulu Melana forest reserve still remains to be addressed. Although these natives are semi-settled they also face problems farming, and still rely on the forest for many of their needs. Applications for communal forests
The fundamental issue at stake is the access rights of native communities to forest resources. The creation of communal forests under the state Forests Ordinance, would legally secure these rights as areas would be set aside to allow communities use of the forests for their domestic needs.
However, communal forests constitute a very small portion of forest areas in Sarawak. Between 1968 and 1984 this area shrank from 303 sq. Km to only 56 sq. Km, a reduction of 82%, thus depriving the natives from having access to forest produce in the vicinity of their communities.
To SAM's knowledge over 40 applications for the establishment of communal forest reserves have been sent by various native communities in the Baram, Ulu Limbang and Belaga districts, but to date no new reserves have been declared. Worse, the Minister can at any time terminate the existing reserves, and he has already done so in the past.
In conclusion, in order to help ensure natives' access to forests the State authorities should look into surveying, demarcating and recording the boundary of the natives' communal land and forest in line with the areas they traditionally and currently use for residence, hunting, gathering, burial grounds and other functions.
Chief Minister Taib Mahmud had prohibited to loggers and outsiders to hunt in Ulu Baram/Ulu Limbang areas, to protect resources needed by the Penan and other communities (14.7.87). Since the ban has been spoken out, police has not taken any action against poachers. Untill today most of the loggers go hunting with shotguns, traps and even dogs, and do fishing with nets, harpunes, explosives and electricity, without having their weapons confiscated.
The Sarawak Government has promised the Magoh Biosphere Reserve for the nomadic Penan. to allow them to continue their way of life, besides the Sepayang Biosphere Reserve, the Adang Wildlife Sanctuary (Ulu Limbang) and the Pulong Tau Nationalpark, as well as the Melana Biosphere Reserve for semi-settled Penan. Not a single of the said reserves has been clearly demarcated in place, nor the concerned population been consulted, and logging has continued and continues in the said areas. A logged area cannot provide sufficiently secondary forest products, on which the Penan depend on for their own economy.
Yearly logging rates exceeded in recent years by far sustainable levels (up to 18 Million Qubicmeters/year instead of 6.3 - 9.2 Million Qubicmeters/year) Water catchment areas, areas with slope over 60%, where logging is prohibited, have not been clearly mapped out and beeing protected. Authorities have not been fulfilling their duties. EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for concessions must clearly identify all water catchment areas/areas with slope of over 60%/approval of road constructions through Forestry Department, which is clearly not the case. Total Protected Areas (TPA) have not been clearly identified and protected, like promised (increase from 2 to 8%, recent promise up to 20%). Pulong Tau Nationalpark (1'645 km2), home of the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros and Clouded Lepard, has been mapped by the Forest Department. Why are logging companies like Samling and WTK entering this area, which is also home of the Penan?