Samling withdraws from the Upper Baram Forest Area as Penan increase pressure with police report and blockade
(BARAM / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Penan communities have filed a police report and erected blockades to stop logging in the area of the mountain of Batu Siman in Northern Sarawak. In May and June, timber giant Samling encroached into this culturally sensitive area, which is part of a government supported conservation initiative, the Upper Baram Forest Area (UBFA). The communities filed the police report on July 9th. Presumably on Friday 15th of July, Samling pulled out their machinery and left the area.
From Saturday 16th of July, the Penan from the villages of Long Ajeng, Long Lamam and Long Murung erected blockades on two of Samling’s roads, one leading into the conservation area and one into a community use zone of the UBFA. The Penan decided to build blockade houses across the roads instead of simple barricades to signal their determination to permanently stop timber extraction: the communities and the blockades are here to stay.
The Penan headmen of the three villages are very happy timber extraction has stopped and conveyed the following message: “Our communities are very proud that Samling has stopped destroying the forest around the UBFA core zone. We hope that logging will never again encroach into any of the 18 Penan communities under the UBFA. As long as the company respects our rights, there will be no conflict. Thanks to all those who are concerned about our plight, who have highlighted our concerns and lobbied locally and internationally for our rights.”
Samling previously encroached into Penan territory in 2021. The logging stopped when the community lodged a police report and erected a blockade, however the company resumed timber extraction after only a brief pause. Komeok Joe, head of the Penan organization KERUAN, said: “We really hope that Samling left the area for good this time. The Penan are very committed to implement the Upper Baram Forest Area (UBFA) together with the Sarawak government. We are looking forward to collaboratively protecting our forests.”