Home Civil Society Voices Last nomads of Baram want to live undisturbed – NGOs

Last nomads of Baram want to live undisturbed – NGOs

Baram River

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By the Bruno Manser Fonds, Keruan and The Borneo Project

BA JAWI, Baram, Sarawak — In a letter to Samling sent yesterday, the remote Penan community of Ba Jawi in the upper reaches of the Baram River adamantly reject logging:

“As the last nomads of Baram, we ask Samling to stay away from our forests and allow us to continue to live like our ancestors and carry on their legacy and culture.”

The village is part of the Gerenai forest management unit, which received certification under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) in 2020.

The village expressed its rejection of timber extraction and of forest certification in a letter to Samling in the context of an ongoing surveillance audit.

In 2010 the community filed a native customary rights lawsuit against Samling in an attempt to preserve their forests.

In 2012 Samling entered the forests of Ba Jawi and logged one of the last intact primary forest areas of Sarawak without the community’s consent.

Certification body Sirim is conducting the second surveillance audit for the Gerenai forest management unit on 17-21 July.

Prior expressions of disagreement with logging by the community have not led to the exclusion of their territory from the production zone of the Gerenai forest management unit.

Now the community has submitted a map of their territory with a clear expectation that their area will be marked as a no-logging zone on future maps of the forest management unit.

In the letter to Samling’s COO James Ho Yam Kuan, representatives of Ba Jawi wrote:

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We are the Gang family, the headman family of Ba Jawi and the main guardians of the forest and territory of Ba Jawi. For about 200 years our family has lived, hunted, gathered and collected sago within the boundaries of our territory. We, the people of Ba Jawi, are the last semi-nomadic Penan in the whole of Baram. We are the guardians of the nomadic Penan culture. We herewith state that we ourselves control our forests and refuse to delegate it to Samling or any related party. We are within our rights to withhold consent for any logging on our land.

Like many villages in the area, Ba Jawi is part of the Upper Baram forest area, an initiative supported by local communities and the Forest Department Sarawak under the umbrella of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

Several communities in the Upper Baram forest area have now resolved to boycott these consultations for certification that ultimately misrepresent their interests, and have decided instead to send letters to the forest management unit managers that explicitly reject logging.

Earlier this week, five civil society groups called on Sirim to cancel the MTCS certificate for the Gerenai forest management unit following a series of audit reports confirming Samling’s lack of community engagement since 2019.

In May the Forest Stewardship Council officially accepted a complaint against Samling after determining there was “sufficient evidence” regarding violation of the council’s policies, including alleged violations of traditional and human rights and the destruction of high-conservation-value forests. – Bruno Manser Fonds/Keruan/The Borneo Project

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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