The campaign to protect the primeval forest in Sarawak
1. Beware of the Malaysian MTCC timber label!
Since January 2005, the Penan have been engaged in a fight against fraudulent labelling. Samling, one of the biggest Malaysian timber groups, has been awarded a certificate for “sustainable” forestry management by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC). The intention is to use this label to sell the timber logged in the Penan’s last surviving primeval-forest areas.
For many years, Samling has been plundering the forests, not only in Malaysia but also in Papua-New Guinea, Cambodia and South America. The fact that Samling, of all companies, should be given a certificate for “sustainable” forestry shows to what incredible lengths Malaysia is willing to go to establish a totally undeserved positive image for itself on the international timber market. “We completely and utterly reject this certificate,” writes Penan headman Bilong Oyoi from Long Sait, “many of us are suffering on account of Samling’s activities: our rivers have been contaminated, our sacred sites have been desecrated and our animals are being driven away by people who are destroying our culture and our livelihood.”
Bruno Manser Fund launches MTCC campaign in Europe
In Malaysia nearly all environmental and human-rights organisations are boycotting the MTCC label, which is totally lacking in credibility. To make sure that the criticism voiced by those directly affected is also heard in Europe (on which the MTCC has set its sights), the Bruno Manser Fund published a protest letter from the Penan to the British timber-trading and building-materials company of Jewson Ltd. on 17 February 2006. Several media in various countries have relayed this message, and in the meantime discussions have begun between environmental organisations, European companies and governments.
2. The Pulong Tau National Park: support from the Bruno Manser Fund
In March 2006, the long-planned Pulong Tau National Park was finally opened in Eastern Sarawak near the border with Indonesia. Some 58,000 hectares of mountainous primeval forest have been placed under protection. Plans already exist to extend this national park.
The Bruno Manser Fund is very pleased with this success in protecting primeval forests and is committed to having the decisions on the protective provisions extended to include the Penan people living in the region. Thanks to the good offices of the Bruno Manser Fund, two meetings have already been held between Penan representatives, the project committee and international donors. In addition, satellite photographs provided by the Bruno Manser Fund to the international project committee are also being used to monitor logging activities in the adjacent territories. This was made possible through the kind cooperation of Geospace Austria, a company based in Salzburg.