Extracted from Malaysiakini
Timber-based conglomerate Samling Group has rejected recent
reports attributed to certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that it
does not practise sustainable forest management in its Sela’an-Linau Forest
Management Unit (FMU) in the Baram.
It did not name the NGOs but the Miri-based Borneo Research Institute
The Seka’an-Linau FMU is the first and only forest concession in
Brimas and several other NGOs recently took the MTTC to task for ‘legalising illegal timber’ because they said the disputes over NCR land belonging to the Penan within the FMU were still not being resolved and were being referred to the court.
A MTCC spokesperson, however, made no comment on the NGOs' charges against its decision to go ahead and certified the forest area.
In its own response which was also published in the MTCC’s website, Samling said it regretted recent reports by certain NGOs concerning the SFM and forest certification in the Sela’an-Linau area.
Giving ‘facts as clarifications,’ the timber group, one of the largest in
The areas shown as ‘unsustainable’ is not encompassing any part of the certified FMU, it added.
According to Samling, the satellite imagery provided by the NGOs was dated 2001 which was well before the forest certification was completed in 2004.
Samling provided two satellite images dated 2001 and 2003 respectively showing the delineated boundaries of the certified forest area.
“The two images also show distinctly the differences between forests which are managed under Samling and those which are not,” it said.
Respect land claims
Samling insisted that forest management in
‘Samling had zoned out all known shifting cultivation areas from
all its operations and we fully respect all authorised land claims.’
It added: ‘We hold periodical liaison committee meetings where representatives of communities and government agencies are present to address issues, including land matters which are of interest to the various parties.’
It said inhabitants of the various communities are not prevented access to any part of the forest area in the FMU for their gathering of non-timber produce such as sago, rattan and wild fruits and hunting of wild animals.
The company claimed that the majority of the communities who are actively involved in what it called its socio-economic development programmes, including the Penan, support Samling’s forest management practices.
Among its ‘numerous community development projects’ is a coffee project launched by the Telang Usan state assemblyperson Lihan Jok in July this year. This project is one of the economic alternatives for agro-based development by the communities living in and around the FMU area.
It added that this is a initiative jointly undertaken by the Agriculture Department, Sarawak Forestry, Samling and Sarawak Timber Association to help the various indigenous communities in the Baram, unlike the disruptive measures by some NGOs which add to confusion and deprive the natives an opportunity to progress.