No highway through the rainforest

No highway through the rainforest

The Pan Borneo Highway is to cross the last intact rainforests in Sarawak’s interior and threatens the last semi-nomadic Penan. The Bruno Manser Fund supports the affected Penan who are fighting the construction of the highway through their territory.

The Malaysian government is building a highway across the Malaysian part of Borneo, threatening the last primary forests. The mostly four-lane road stretches along the coast from southern Sarawak to the neighbouring state of Sabah. On its way lies the Sultanate of Brunei. That's why the road there is planned to run through Sarawak's interior: Not only are some of Sarawak's most important protected areas located here, such as the Gunung Mulu National Park, but the last semi-nomadic Penan also live here.

A highway in this sensitive region will destroy the rainforest. Wildlife corridors will be disrupted and the remote region will be opened up for exploitation through logging and plantations. It also poses an existential threat to the Penan way of life. The Penan of the Magoh and Limbang regions have only recently settled and are still nomadic in the rainforest for large parts of the year. For them, hunting and gathering in an intact rainforest is of even greater importance than for other Penan groups.

So far, the government has avoided to publish the exact route. This makes it difficult to assess the environmental and social impacts. In addition, the affected Penan villages have not been consulted. The construction of a highway in this remote and mountainous region also raises questions about technical feasibility and necessity. Already the first stretch of the highway in the southern tip of Sarawak is scarcely used, as the region is sparsely populated. Even fewer people live in the Limbang region – most of them without cars.

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