The Penan people from the jungles of Sarawak are threatened by rampant commercial logging and palm oil plantations for bio-fuel, a Malaysian government report said. European and North American demand for “green” bio-fuels made from palm oil means rainforests across the region are being replaced with plantations writes the Telegraph:
For 20 years the Penan people from the jungles of Serawak have mounted a peaceful campaign to protect their ancestral lands, only to be driven back by soldiers, police and contractors.
Earlier this year, as police firing shots in the air tore down the latest blockades of bamboo tied with grass, Penan leaders said that if the loggers were not stopped their jungle would be entirely destroyed within two years.
Now at last they have received some official backing. “Claims made [by Penans] on ancestral land are often not considered by the relevant authorities and those who clear the forest areas and commence logging and oil palm activities,” said the report, recommending that the land code be reviewed to include customary rights.
It may already be too late for the Penan. The rainforests of Serawak are millions of years old but have been decimated by the Malaysian logging companies which, campaigners say, have felled trees at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world.
The Penan leaders also met with officials from the Sarawak state government to demand that it recognise their rights to their land and stop issuing logging and plantation licences on their land. Groups of Penan have set up blockades on roads through their forest to stop loggers destroying their homes according to Survival International.
This story reminds me of the article Eco-junk by George Monbiot. Ecological of ethical shopping is not the solution, but less shopping.