Penan village successfully protects forest from logging

The small Penan village of Long Tevenga on Borneo saved their forest from timber extraction with unconventional means.

After two years of struggle against logging in their forest, the Penan village of Long Tevenga in Northern Sarawak gained a major victory. The Sarawak Forest Department has told logging company Lee Ling it can no longer proceed with logging — as long as the community has not given their consent.

For the last two years, the Penan have tried to prevent the logging company from entering the forest with a barricade on the logging road. This August, the village under headman Peng Megut decided to strengthen their efforts by building a house across the logging road. When the logging company came back, they had no way to get through and continue road construction or timber extraction.

Last Friday, the 12th of October, the logging company Lee Ling returned to the blockade site with support of the police and representatives of the Sarawak Forest Department. Based on the recently completed community maps, the Penan showed how logging activities threaten their territorial rights in the area. Consequently, the Sarawak Forest Department sent the logging company 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 Borneo Project partner Bruno Manser Fund published a set of 23 maps documenting the Penan’s traditional forest and land use.