Long Moh villagers cry foul over illegal logging, demand compensation and timber licenses revoked

Villagers protesting against unpermitted logging on their land by a timber company

KUCHING, March 11: Some 300 villagers of Long Moh, a village in Ulu Baram within the Marudi division, are calling for the revocation of a timber company’s licenses until their demand for compensation for unpermitted logging on their land and other compliance issues are met.

Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang, in a statement today, revealed that villagers of Long Moh have discovered that logging activities had taken place throughout last year in three unconsented areas of Bekia, Ampai and Seru’an which the company through a representative had agreed not to touch as per agreement reached with the community in June 2018.

Then in October 2020, community members had met with the head of Miri Forestry Department and learned that no coupe or permit had been approved for any logging activity in those areas which have deep significance to the Long Moh community including the waterfalls, rivers and a sacred site containing historic relics of their people.

Long Moh community representative La’ang Eban pointed out that although the timber company was operationg by the coupe 04AR and T0411 license for sanctioned logging in Long Moh, they have violated the standards by encroaching into Bekia, Ampai and Seru’en.

“They have violated the Free, Prior and Informed Consent owed to the affected community by taking timber out of our protected NCR (Native Customary Rights) areas without even informing or consulting us first,” he said.

These areas, he added, were also inside the Baram Peace Park, an important indigenous managed conservation zone recently endorsed by the International Tropical Timber Organisation.

The community had submitted two letters demanding compensation from the timber company with the first in September which received no response, and later in November of last year.

Copies of the latest letter were also sent to Malaysia Timber Certification Council (MTCC), SIRIM QAS and Sarawak Forestry Department on Feb 26, 2021.

Indigenous rights activists Mark Bujang added that if the timber company continues to go ahead with entering and extracting timber in the NCR land of the communities in Long Moh, they would have violated their own certification under Malaysia Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).

“The company should comply with its own certification as a minimum standard and should not continue to ignore the community’s plight and demands,” he stressed.

Another community member representing Long Moh, Thomas Bilong, emphasised that the community will continue to fight for compensation in this case and was calling for the timber company’s licenses in the area to be revoked until these failures can be remedied.

“The people of Long Moh together with our leaders tried to resolve these unsanctioned logging issues with the company but they have failed to respond as required by the MTCS or any other standards that were supposed to hold them accountable.

“We urged that their logging permits be revoked as soon as possible in view of these failures to comply,” he called on. — DayakDaily