Penan welcome historic meeting with Forest Department Sarawak
30 years after the beginning of their struggle, the Sarawak state government begins a dialogue with indigenous communities opposed to logging
Miri- 18th February 2016 - A delegation of Penan representing 18 villages are grateful that the government finally consented to discuss their proposed Penan Peace Park (PPP).
The meeting held in Miri recently, (18 February 2016) saw representatives of the Penan communities, lead by Encik James Lalo Kesoh, formally presenting their proposal to the government. The government’s representatives were led by State Forestry Director Encik Sapuan Ahmad together with the Deputy Resident of Miri, Encik Abdul Aziz Mohd Ysusf and the Penan Paramount Chief Temagong Datuk Hassan Sui.
PPP is a proposed community managed protected area to maintain a unique and species-rich ecosystem in the Upper Baram. The 1628 square kilometres area in Upper Baram extends to some areas in Tutoh and the Akah rivers.
The proposed protection of the ecosystem is by promoting land usage with alternative methods to generate income for the people without impacting the biosphere.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Encik Sapuan Ahmad said that the government welcomes the proposal by the Penan delegation and was willing to do further studies with the collaboration of the villagers in the area.
Encik James Laloh Kesoh, on behalf of the Penans, acknowledged the positive response by the representatives from the government and he therefore requested that all logging activates in the area to be put on an immediate moratorium. He also requested that all lawsuits by the government against the Penan concerning the said land to be withdrawn. In his answer to Encik James Laloh Keshoh, Encik Sapuan Ahmad said that the government is willing to consider the proposal and he requested for a written application from the Penans to support it.
The proposed protected area and its surroundings play a very important role with regard to fauna as well. According to a survey by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) for the Pulong Tau National Park, which is adjacent to the proposed area, it represents a “biological hotspot”. A total number of more than 300 species have been found, these include fish, amphibians, mammal, birds and many more. At least 56 of the documented animals species are endemic in Borneo and 52 are listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. END OF PRESS RELEASE
I (Peter Kallang) was present at the meeting together as an observer for the Penans with Mr. Harrison Ngau Laing the former MP for Baram, Environmentalist and Land Rights Lawyer. For any queries please call me on – 013 833 1104
James Laloh Kesoh
98000 Upper Baram, SARAWAK
Penan Selungo welcome dialogue with Sarawak Forestry
The Penan communities from Upper Baram welcome the dialogue session with Sarawak Forestry Department held in Miri on 18 February 2016 and would like to thank Chief Minister Adenan Satem and Forest Director Sapuan Ahmad for this historic step towards reconciliation and recognition of the Penan struggle to preserve the Borneo rainforest. Eventually, this dialogue should lead to the official recognition of our native customary rights by the state government and the establishment of the Community Managed Protected Area in Upper Baram.
James Laloh Kesoh, former penghulu of Upper Baram, welcomed the announcement by Sarawak Forestry Department that no logging should take place on Penan native customary rights land and that no further logging concessions would be issued. However, due to the critical situation of the last primary rainforests in the Penan areas, he called for an immediate logging moratorium and that no more coupe entry permits should be issued by Sarawak Forestry to the timber operators, particularly the Samling Group and its contractors.
The Penan communities from Upper Baram are encouraged by the meeting with Sarawak Forestry to continue the struggle for land rights and the conservation of an intact environment in Upper Baram.
Current problems raised by the Penan during the meeting concerned the encroachment by Shin Yang and GT company in the Middle Baram. Headman Panai Irang from Ba Anbang urged the state government to take urgent action to resolve the matter and stop the logging operations in the area. Due to river pollution, the river can no longer be used as a source of drinking water.
In Upper Limbang, logging operations by Sound Timber are still continuing in the NCR land of the Penan communities of Long Keneng and Long Adang. According to TK Kayan Itik, Sarawak Forestry and the state government should take immediate action against the damaging logging operations on their NCR land.
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