Baram communities start signature campaign against logging

Community signature campaign condemns selective consultations and requests a stop work order for timber giant Samling in Sarawak’s interior

(BARAM / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Indigenous communities of the Baram River Basin have launched a signature campaign against the misleading sustainability certification of logging activities on their ancestral land. Last week a preliminary batch of signatures was sent to the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC), the international body that endorses the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS). The on-going timber extraction by logging company Samling within the Gerenai Forest Management Unit (FMU) was certified for sustainable logging by MTCS in 2020.

In the petition letter, the signatories “demand the immediate stop/cease of all/any industrial-scale extractive activities in the area by Syarikat Samling Timber (SST)” as the logging activities are conducted without the consent of the whole community. They continue: “We strongly oppose this selective consultation approach used by Syarikat Samling Timber (SST) with the KKs (Ketua Kampung or community leaders) only; as this consultation is insidious and an insult to us, the communities. No KKs nor any single individual can represent the community as a whole regardless of his/her office.”

The signature campaign is coordinated by the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC), a committee composed of representatives from the communities within Samling’s Gerenai Forest Management Unit (FMU). The signature campaign began only a few weeks ago and over 80 people from the villages of Long Moh, Long Tungan and Tanjung Tepalit have already signed.

Boyce Ngau, vice chairman of Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC), explained: “This is just the start. We are going to collect more signatures in the villages over the upcoming weeks as long as the situation due to COVID-19 allows it. We have repeatedly voiced our concerns with regards to the MTCS and PEFC certification. We expect the PEFC to immediately issue a stop work order for all activities within Gerenai FMU until all issues are resolved.”

Last month, GCRAC submitted a complaint to the PEFC addressing the lack of consultations. Earlier this year, logging giant Samling sued the NGO SAVE Rivers for defamation for exposing community concerns about the logging at a national and international stage.

–    Ends   –