Another nail in Borneo’s biodiversity coffin

11 09 2008

I always try to tell myself never “to underestimate the stupidity of the human race”; yet, I am too often surprised. Borneo is one of the places in the tropics with the worst track record in destroying ecosystems and the services they provide. The Malaysian government couldn’t be more self-destructive with this sort of policy.

This item from Mongaybay.com:

© CIFOR

© CIFOR

The Malaysian government is attempting to quell indigenous opposition to logging in the rainforests of Borneo by deposing community leaders and replacing them with timber company stakeholders, reports an environmental group.

The Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO that works on behalf of the forest people of Sarawak, Malaysia, says that the headmen of at least three Penan communities that have opposed logging have lost official recognition from Malaysian authorities over the past year. The government is working to install representatives who support logging.

“The non-recognition of the elected community headmen by the Sarawak State Government is a clear violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” stated the Bruno Manser Fund in an emailed release. “The Declaration, which has been adopted by Malaysia, upholds in its article 18 the right of indigenous communities ‘to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures’.”

The Penan communities of Sarawak have waged a long battle against the logging of their ancestral homeland in the rainforests of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. The opposition reached a crescendo in the 1980s when the Penan blocked logging roads and sabotaged equipment. The Malaysian government responded by closing down media access to the area and sending in armed forces to violently supress the unrest. While the attacks on the Penan brought international attention to the rapacious logging of Borneo’s forests, they had relatively little long-term impact.

Today the Penan face not only loggers but increased pressure from oil palm developers as well as an ambitious government plan to dam several rainforest rivers in an effort to generate electricity to attract aluminum smelters and mineral refiners.

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31 05 2009
Indonesia’s precious peatlands under oil palm fire « ConservationBytes.com

[…] be converted to oil palm. Is nothing immune to the spread of this crop (see previous posts here and here on oil palm […]

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12 09 2008
Corey Bradshaw

Thanks, Sophie. Deforestation is a serious issue in Borneo with crimes committed by both Malaysia and Indonesia. For a synopsis of the state of the SE Asian biodiversity (and ecosystem services) loss, see the following:

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/book.asp?ref=9781405150736&site=1

http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/070193

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=RF8hHQ0Zm2cC&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89&dq=southeast+asia+extinction+sodhi+brook&source=web&ots=eDzsrNXLif&sig=mZEsN87ogr-1OsCWJd9xslH3Qj8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

CJA Bradshaw

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12 09 2008
Sophie

Everyone in Malaysia is talking about 16th September, when the opposition coalition may take over from the incumbent ruling party to run the country. I sincerely hope they will take over as you really have no idea what the current regime is capable of. Hope they will stop logging all primary forest in Sabah and Sarawak at the very least.

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