Coalition submits complaint to FSC during General Assembly, calling on the body to withdraw Samling’s certificates
(BALI, INDONESIA / MIRI, MALAYSIA) This week, a coalition of civil society organizations are calling on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to drop Sarawak timber giant Samling and withdraw its FSC Licence Agreement under a Policy for Association complaint. The complaint names violations of traditional and human rights, destruction of high conservation value forests and significant conversion of forests as grounds for dissociation.
“We’re confident that FSC will take our complaint seriously and hopeful they will stand up for Indigenous rights in Sarawak,” said William Tingang of Long Moh, one of the impacted communities. “It’s high time for the international certification bodies to stop greenwashing Samling’s dirty timber.”
The complaint submission coincides with the FSC General Assembly in Bali and is presented by FSC Indigenous Foundation Council member and native Sarawakian Nicholas Mujah. The complaint was prepared by The Borneo Project, Bruno Manser Fonds, Keruan Organisation, the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC) and SAVE Rivers — the grassroots organization that Samling is suing for RM 5 million in damages for supposed defamation.
The complaint outlines 3 conflict areas in Sarawak where Samling has logged natural forests in traditional territories in violation of Indigenous rights, without free, prior and informed consent, and resulting in the destruction of high conservation value forest. These areas are: 1. FTL T/0405 (Long Pakan community), 2. MTCS-certified Gerenai and Ravenscourt FMUs (Indigenous communities of the Baram and Limbang watersheds), and 3. the Upper Baram Forest Area (Long Ajeng, Long Moh communities and others). The complaint is backed up by satellite imagery, mapping, photographic evidence, and community testimony, compiling evidence of encroachment spanning 5 years.
“Nothing can be done for the forests that have already been lost due to Samling’s irresponsible actions, but we hope that something can be done to prevent this ever happening again in the future” said Boyce Ngau of GCRAC.
Samling’s timber concessions in Sarawak are not FSC certified, however the company holds three FSC chain of custody certificates. According to the FSC Policy for Association, some forestry practices “are so destructive that they cannot be tolerated…organizations found responsible for these activities face exclusion from the FSC scheme.” This includes deforestation, destruction of High Conservation Values, and human and traditional rights violations.
The complaint comes as this year’s FSC meeting places a major emphasis on Indigenous inclusivity. The FSC promotional trademark is intended to guarantee a commitment to sustainable practices and is the world’s most rigorous and trusted forest certification system. Losing its license would be a major blow to Samling’s reputation and its capacity to sell timber products around the world, and would send a major signal that forest companies that do not take Indigenous rights seriously and fail to apply FPIC faithfully have no place in sustainable forestry
Contact: for more info please contact Celine Lim (SAVE Rivers) firstname.lastname@example.org, Jettie Word (The Borneo Project) email@example.com or Annina Aeberli (Bruno Manser Fonds) firstname.lastname@example.org. A summary of the complaint can be found here: http://borneoproject.org/media-brief-fsc-pfa-summary-of-complaint/
About the coalition:
- The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF) is committed to protecting the threatened
tropical rainforests and the rights of the Indigenous peoples, especially in Sarawak, Malaysia.
- The Borneo Project brings international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights.
- Keruan Organisation advocates for and represents the aspirations of the Penan community.
- GCRAC is the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee, an organisation set up to advocate for the rights of communities located in the Gerenai forest management unit.
- SAVE Rivers supports and empowers rural communities to protect their land, rivers, and watersheds through capacity building, networking, research, education, and advocacy.