Penan communities appalled by timber certification issued without their knowledge

Penan communities from the Limbang area only learnt about the issuance of a timber certificate affecting their area two years after the fact – they now demand respect of Free, Prior and Informed Consent

(MIRI / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) This July the Penan communities of the Upper Limbang area in Northern Sarawak were shocked to learn that in 2018 Samling received a certificate for sustainable forest management of its Ravenscourt Forest Management Unit (FMU), which includes the communities’ territories. In a letter to the Malaysian certification body SIRIM, who granted the certificate, the affected communities have asked Samling and SIRIM to respect their opposition to logging. In the letter, they also point out that the company in no way obtained their Free, Prior and Informed Consent as requested under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).

Ketua Baru from Long Adang expressed his communities’ disappointment: “Regarding the MTCS given by SIRIM to Samling - although MTCS is Sustainable Logging - as long as the company cuts down the forest in our area, we do not agree. Samling Company and also SIRIM never explained nor told us about the MTCS Logging Certificate given to Samling. If we, the Penan of Ba Nyakit, Long Gita, Long Peresek, Long Tevenga, Long Da’un and Long Adang, had known this from the beginning, we would not have agreed. ”

The affected Penan communities only learnt of the certificate because of a re-evaluation, which happened during the Movement Control Order this July. They did not attend the meeting, as they did not understand its purpose. They also explained that they were unwilling to go to the meeting because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Komeok Joe, the CEO of the Penan organisation KERUAN, explained the Penan’s rejection of logging in the area: “These communities have repeatedly expressed that they do not want logging on their land. They depend on the forest for their livelihoods as well as for their cultural and spiritual survival. The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme is only credible if it respects its own principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. I would like to know how Samling, SIRIM and the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) plan to ensure that the communities’ will is respected.”

This is the latest in Samling’s series of shortcomings informing and consulting communities affected by their ongoing MTCS certifications. Local NGO SAVE Rivers has been criticizing the lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for the certification of the Gerenai Forest Management Unit in the Middle Baram Area. The petition #StopTheChop brings the breach of regulations to the attention of PEFC, the international certification body:

Back to overview