Penan communities of Upper Baram back to logging road blockades in an attempt to prevent logging activities in what they claimed their last primeval forest.
The new logging road blockades, started late last month were erected at two strategical locations on logging roads near the Penan villages of Long Sabai and Ba Kerameu on the upper reaches of the Akah river.Borneo Manser Fond (BMF) in a statement said it was aimed at preserving the Penans last remaining virgin jungle from being logged by the Samling Group, a Malaysian timber giant.
According BMF surveyors of the Samling corporation had repeatedly been asked to stop working on the Penan’ s native lands but had refused to do so.
As a consequence, the villagers erected two blockades that have been in place since 24 March and 31 March 2010 respectively.
“We know that we are weaker than the Samling bulldozers,” Aya Luding, a spokesman for the Long Sabai community told BMF.
“But we are determined to fight for our next generation because we cannot survive without the forest.
“If we let the company in and do some logging, they will want to take all of our forest.”
Last November, seventeen Penan communities of the Upper Baram region had declared their native lands a self-administered nature reserve.
The “Penan Peace Park” covers an area of 163,000 hectares of high conservation value rainforest and traditionally used agricultural land near the international border between Malaysia and Indonesia.
Since the 1980s the Penan communities have been fighting through the Malaysian courts to try and protect their lands. But it is a lengthy process and, in the meantime, the government continues to issue licences and the companies continue to log.
Disheartened by the legal process, the Penan often resorted to taking matters into their own hands – armed with machetes and blow-pipes, they set up blockades.
The last time – a similar blockades erected was December, 2009.