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Earth Island News

Borneo Project

Penan continue blockade


woman in elaborate outfit dancing photoShawn SullivanMujan Mering of Keluan performs the Kayan hornbill
dance to celebrate her communitys new longhouse.

In February 2004, the Penan of Long Benali, Sarawak erected a road blockade to mark their territory boundary and prevent logging incursions and road expansion by Samling Plywood (Baramas) Sendirian Berhad. According to community reports sent to the Bruno Manser Foundation of Switzerland (BMF), Malaysian government officers announced that the blockade would be dismantled in July 2006. Logging companies have dismantled one Penan road blockade and are mobilizing to break another. Riot police are searching for the organizers.

“Please support us and stay strongly behind us,” said Penan headmen in July. “Ask the police not to use force against us on our land. We, the Penan communities, will keep up the struggle for our forest forever.”

According to BMF, the announcement further discredits the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC), a government initiative that has certified Samling for “sustainable” logging in the area. The certification of Samling has led to many international protests due to MTCC’s blatant disregard for 20 years of continuous local protests, petitions by hundreds of Penan elders, and a pending court case for native customary land rights.

Separately, workers of Interhill Logging Sdn. Bhd., dismantled a Penan road blockade near Ba Abang, Sarawak in July 2006. The Federal Reserve Unit, a police unit specializing in quelling riots and dispersing “unlawful assemblies,” was searching the area for those who had confiscated two company chainsaws and erected the blockade in early June.

(For updates, see To send letters of concern to the Malaysian government, go to

Illegal logging stopped

The Dusun community of Terian, Sabah, recently won a major victory stopping an illegal logging road that was headed for their rainforests on the border of Crocker Range National Park. Terian is renowned for its successful microhydro power project and community mapping, both supported by the Borneo Project. It is also the only community in Sabah to have won official approval for its communal land rights claim. When community members complained to the Forestry Department about the illegal logging headed toward their forest, they received no answer for months. They then asked Member of Parliament Philip Lasimbang to raise the issue in government circles, and the issue was dealt with swiftly: the perpetrators were thrown in jail, and their bulldozers and chainsaws permanently confiscated.

Keluan wins grant, restores rainforests
Since receiving the grant,
the community has planted
8,000 engkabang seedlings,
the seeds of which are the
preferred food source for
wild boar.

The Kayan longhouse community of Uma Bawang/Keluan, Sister City of Berkeley, California for the past 15 years, has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the United National Development Program’s Small Grants Program to Promote Tropical Forests. The grant is being used to restore degraded rainforests on ancestral lands, as well as planting native trees for wildlife habitat, rattans for handicrafts, and medicinal plants. Since receiving the grant, the community has planted 8,000 engkabang seedlings (Shorea macrophylla), the seeds of which are the preferred food source for wild boar. The community is now raising 4,000 rattans in its nursery. The community has also realized its long-standing dream of constructing a traditional Kayan longhouse, complete with a high-ceilinged, wood-shingled roof. Community members invite all supporters of the Borneo Project and Earth Island to visit and witness their hard work.


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