The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) was recently created to help certify that the international timber market within Malaysia is from a sustainable source. The country developed the MTCS to certify that organizations meet the country’s standards for timber and logging. After a closer look into the situation in Sarawak, Malaysia, there seems to be a multitude of concerning flaws in the implementation processes of this certification at the expense of the local communities.
There have been 3 certificates for sustainable forest management for the natural forests that have been granted in Sarawak, Malaysia. The MTCS has granted these certificates to the logging companies: Samling: Ravenscourt FMU (2018), Ulu Trusan FMU (2018), and Gerenai FMU (2020). Local communities have come forward to state that they have not been duly informed or consulted with on their own ideas and visions for their local forests.
From this, the #StopTheChop petition was created in June 2020 and presented to the Geneva-based Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the largest sustainability certification organization by the land area covered. Together, they argue that timber harvesting without community consent should not be allowed under Malaysia’s MTCS.
The #StopTheChop campaign has picked up more momentum recently as more communities reject logging by Samling. Below are some of the most recent campaign events that have taken place.
International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Endorses Baram Peace Park
In December 2020, the ITTO endorsed the Forest Department Sarawak proposal for the Baram Peace Park, which covers 2,835 square kilometers (1,095 square miles) of the island of Borneo. The park seeks to protect the local wildlife, forest-dependent livelihoods, and the only remaining primary forest in Sarawak, Indonesia. While the endorsement of ITTO is a great step in the right direction, logging continues to be detrimental and threatens the region’s forests. Read more >>
“The project objectives contribute strongly to ITTO’s mandate to promote sustainable forest management in the tropics, including through empowering and engaging with local communities,”– International Tropical Timber Organization to Mongabay
Justice is Demanded by 300 Long Moh Villagers After Unpermitted Logging
Back in 2018, the timber and logging company Samling agreed to not log in both the Bekia, Ampai, and Seru’en areas of Long Moh’s land. However, a few months ago, Long Moh’s villagers found that Samling had been logging in each of the three areas without appropriate logging permits. Each of the areas are within the Baram Peace Park.
These areas hold a deep significance to the Long Moh community, as they include waterfalls, rivers, and a sacred site that contains historic relics.
This past February, the Long Moh community submitted a letter to Samling that demands compensation for the unpermitted logging on their land. This letter, written back in November 2020, was signed by 300 of the community members and is the second plea to Samling. Read More >>
“Although Samling is operating by the coupe 04AR and T0411 license for sanctioned logging in Long Moh, they have violated the standards by encroaching into Bekia, Ampai, and Seru’en. They have violated the Free, Prior and Informed Consent owed to the affected community by taking timber out of our protected NCR areas without even informing or consulting us first.”– William Tinggang, Long Moh Community Representative
Samling Continues to Log Conservation Zones Despite Opposition
In February 2021, Timber and logging company Samling encroached into a Penan area known as Baram Peace Park in Northern Sarawak despite its being earmarked for the Upper Baram Forest Area’s conservation zone.
Samling did not contact or inform the community about the Long Ajeng, Long Laman, and Long Murung territories’ logging activities. Some communities, such as the villagers from the Long Ajeng territory, only became aware of the logging when hunting in the area, only to find bulldozers and fresh skid trails. Much of the logging being carried out by Samling is on the last remaining primary forests in Sarawak.
The leaders from Long Ajeng and Long Lamam came to Miri to file a police report about Samling’s logging activities on Friday, March 5th, 2021.
The Sarawak government alongside the local communities has been working to establish the Upper Baram Forest to protect these vulnerable areas, specifically Penan as it holds old campsites of the formerly nomadic groups from the area. Read More >>
Sign the #StopTheChop petition: