Penan successful in stopping timber company from logging conservation area

Members of the Penan communities blocking the roads to prevent the timber company from extracting timber.

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KUCHING, July 26: With increasing pressure from Penan communities, a timber company has withdrawn from logging activities in the Upper Baram Forest Area (UBFA).

According to a joint press release by Penan organisation Keruan, Bruno Manser Fonds, and The Borneo Project, the Penan communities filed a police report and erected blockades to stop logging in the area of the mountain of Batu Siman in Northern Sarawak.

“In May and June, the timber company encroached into this culturally sensitive area, which is part of a government-supported conservation initiative.

“The communities filed the police report on July 9, and presumably on July 15, the timber company pulled out their machinery and left the area.”

It added that on July 16, the Penan from Long Ajeng, Long Lamam, and Long Murung erected blockades on two of the timber company’s roads — one leading into the conservation area and one into a community use zone of the UBFA.

“The Penan decided to build blockade houses across the roads instead of simple barricades to signal their determination to permanently stop timber extraction — the communities and the blockades are here to stay,” the statement said.

The Penan headmen of the three villages were pleased that timber extraction had stopped and hoped that logging would never again encroach into any of the 18 Penan communities under UBFA, saying that as long as the company respected their rights, there would be no conflict.

Examining the damage done by the timber company before it left the area.

In 2021, the timber company encroached into Penan territory, but logging was stopped when the community lodged a police report and erected a blockade.

However, according to Keruan head Komeok Joe, the company resumed timber extraction shortly after.

“The Penan are very committed to implementing the UBFA together with the Sarawak government. We are looking forward to collaboratively protecting our forests,” said Komeok. — DayakDaily