Penan villagers drive away logging company

The Penan community of Long Tevenga in front of their blockade on the logging road. (Photo: BMF)

Long Tevenga/Sarawak,Malaysia – Stories like this do not come too often: villagers come face to face with powerful companies to chop down trees on their forests and they drove them away.

Penan villagers from the province of Borneo demonstrated that people power has prevailed as they won their case against a logging company attempting to extract timber from their forest.

The Penans have been protesting for two years against the logging operations of Lee Ling Timber Sdn. Bhd. They have barricaded the path to the forest and in August this year, their headman Peg Megut urged to strengthen their efforts: they built a house across the road leading to the forest.

Lee Ling returned to the blockade site on October 12, along with the police and representatives of the Sarawak Forest Department. However, the Penan showed how logging activities threaten their territorial rights in the area. They presented recently- completed community maps.

Negotiations between the Penan, the logging company Lee Ling and the Sarawak authorities on October 12, 2018. (Photo: BMF)

Blocked from trespassing their ancestral territory, the Sarawak Forest Department decided to send the logging company back home and stated that Lee Ling should not proceed with further timber extraction without the consent of the Penan village.

Last year, the Penan and the Bruno Manser Fund published a set of 23 maps documenting the Penan’s traditional forest and land use.

(Source: BNF)

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Greens rally to save Tasmania’s world heritage

The Bob Brown Foundation gathered around 2,000 people today to help rally against removal of 74,000 hectares of forests from the World Heritage List in the Upper Florentine Valley in Tasmania. The area is part of the 170,000 hectares added into the highly protected area which was decided in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last year .

Australia’s current Government proposed the removal as it intends to use the area for logging. The proposal has been submitted to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and the decision will be announced around June 15-25 in Doha.

The Foundation said the area is largely intact with tall eucalyptus forests and karst region (underground cave formations) besides there are other significant geomorphological features and areas of significant Aboriginal heritage.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterates his government’s mission, first and foremost, is to get back into business especially with the historic Free Trade Agreements (FTA) he recently signed with Japan and Korea, while FTA with China is also being worked out.

Noting his address to the 2014 Forest Works Dinner in Canberra last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott  told the timber industry that his Government is working for the removal of the 74,000 hectares of forest from the heritage listing. He said,”One of the first acts of the incoming Government was to begin the process to try to get out of world heritage listing 74,000 hectares of country in Tasmania, because that 74,000 hectares is not pristine forest. It’s forest which has been logged, it’s forest which has been degraded, in some cases, it’s plantation timber that was actually planted to be logged.”

Abbott convinced timber investors that 74,000 hectares out of the world heritage listing will “still leave half of Tasmania protected forever.” He assured that his Government respects the timber industry and that it wants the timber industry to have a vigorous and dynamic future, “We want the timber industry to be a vital part of Australia’s economic future, not just something that was a relic of our history. That’s what this Government wants.”

The Bob Brown Foundation’s Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said, “Today’s outstanding turn out in the Upper Florentine forests clearly shows that Australians are very proud of their World Heritage forests. We are sending a strong message to UNESCO that we love our spectacular forests of outstanding universal value, and the Australian community will stand up to defend them.”
Rally speakers included Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne, Markets for Change CEO Peg Putt, Still Wild Still Threatened’s Miranda Gibson and Home and Away actor Lisa Gormley.
Blog Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

 

 

Post-Easter

Australia has gone through a long weekend over Easter period and business has just resumed today.

Nonetheless, the past days had not been completely quiet. Issues on the rights of asylum seekers rage on while civic activism continues.

In NSW, residents fear about gas fracking and contamination while in Queensland, conservation groups rally against massive industrialization along the Great Barrier Reef. Tasmania Wilderness remains under threat as the Tony Abbott Government changed its mind about protecting the world heritage forested areas. There is a ray of hope in Western Australia as a result of the recently held election. However, the fight to protect the rights of sharks from culling is expected to go on.

Whales in the Southern Ocean, meanwhile, can enjoy a peaceful and safe interlude while the Japanese harpoons had lost their case in the international court. They are back home pondering what to do next and it is possible they will come back to pursue their “scientific research”.

I will resume my writing soon.