Certification body launches dispute resolution process between Malaysian timber giant Samling and Sarawak Indigenous communities

Civil society groups call for a moratorium on logging in affected areas until the dispute can be resolved, and for environmental and social impact assessments to be released immediately.

(MIRI, SARAWAK/MALAYSIA) In May 2021, Indigenous Penan, Kenyah and Jamok communities from Sarawak’s Upper Limbang and Baram regions filed complaints with the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) over alleged flaws in the certification of two logging concessions by MTCC, a timber certification scheme endorsed by the global PEFC standard.

 Last week, the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC) and Penan advocacy group Keruan were informed that the communities’ submissions have been taken up by MTCC’s dispute resolution committee. The certification body has instructed its Secretariat to proceed with a dispute resolution case involving the Samling Group of Companies and SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bbd with regard to the certification of the Ravenscourt and Gerenai forest management units (FMUs).

The undersigned civil society groups welcome the launch of a dispute resolution process as a major step forward, as communities are yet to have their complaints heard by any relevant authority. Samling has been given an extended deadline until 15 July to reply to the community complaints.

In order to respect the dispute resolution process and to prevent further damage to the remaining forest areas, we are calling for a temporary logging moratorium for the duration of the dispute resolution process.

In a letter to Samling CEO Lawrence Chia, Keruan and GRCAC are also calling for the release of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments as well as the High Conservation Value reports on Samling’s website as a sign of goodwill and transparency.

Samling is denying all allegations by the communities and issued a statement last week, which declared that the allegations “were false and lacked any shred of credibility or truth.”

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