REPORT: DESTRUCTION OF SEBANGAN & SEBUYAU RAINFORESTS DUE TO LOGGING ACTIVITIES
by Borneo Independent News Service on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 6:11pm
DESTRUCTION OF SEBANGAN & SEBUYAU RAINFORESTS DUE TO LOGGING ACTIVITIES
By Numpang Suntai
Kampung Sebangan, 30th August 2010
Quality Concrete Holdings Bhd has a license to extract timber issued by the Director of Forest Department, Sarawak. This is for a period of one year effective 20 November 2009. The license covers the bulk of the last of remaining rainforest between Sebangan and Sebuyau rivers.
The areas covered by the license are in the interconnected mountain range starting from Kpg Mensika to Kpg Entanggor in the Bahagian Samarahan and including areas next to Kpg Lunying in the Bahagian Sri Aman. Sadly, the areas covered by the license are the cultivated lands under Native Customary Rights (NCR) Land and Communal Forests reserve (Kampong Galau) for of the Dayak Iban natives in that area. Evidences to authenticate these claims were submitted to the Land & Survey Department, Sarawak on the 15th & 26th July 2010. In addition, logging will cause extensive permanent environmental and social damages to the area.
This report calls for the Director of Forest Department, Sarawak is to immediately withdraw the license to extract timber in the Sebangan & Sebuyau Rainforests.
2. Opposition to Logging
The local Dayak Iban natives oppose the logging in the Sebangan and Sebuyau areas because:
Figure 1 – The area covered by the logging license covers these rubber trees planted in early 1950s during British Rule.
Figure 2 – Sacred Ancient site at Kpg. Mensika destined for destruction during logging.
The areas covered by the license are their cultivated lands under NCR and their Communal Forest reserve passed down by the forefathers over the generations.
The license covers the last of the remaining rainforest in the area. It is the only sanctuary for whatever wildlife that remains such as Orang Utan. Logging will cause total destruction of their natural habitat and hence their ultimate extinction.
The water supply for Sebangan comes from the Sebangan River. The pumping station is downstream of the areas being logged. Likewise, water catchment areas for Kpg Mensika and Kpg Entanggor are in the affected mountains. Soil erosion due to logging will cause immense water supply problems to all the communities.
Since the areas for which the license was issued are the ancestral lands of the natives, there are several sacred sites (Tempat Meniat) and ancestral cemeteries spread over the area. Their destruction due to logging is inevitable.
The rainforests and the surrounding rivers are the source of livelihood for the natives. Their destruction means the end of their way of life.
The licensee Quality Concrete Holdings Bhd through its contractor Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd commenced road construction and logging activities on 11th June 2010. The local Dayak Iban natives reacted quickly. They went to the logging camp site on the 14th June 2010 whereby the loggers were told to stop all logging and road construction activities as they were encroaching into the NCR lands and communal forest reserve. A police report was made at Sebuyau Police Station the same day. Thereafter, there were several blockades, meetings with the authorities and licensee, and police reports made. These were to no avail. There was a temporary 2-week stoppage in early July 2010. Since then the licensee through its contractor continues with the road construction and logging activities in spite of the protests.
3. Damages Due To Logging
Substantial damages are caused at the relative early part of the logging activities. Much more serious damages and destruction will occur if the logging activities continue and reach the Communal Forest reserve areas upstream.
The following pictures show the damages caused by the logging activities at the Sebangan Rainforest:
3.1 Land & Crop Destruction
Figure 3 – Puan Sumi Ak Tuah at her NCR land.
Figure 3 – The picture shows Puan Sumi Ak Tuah at her NCR land which was bulldozed by Quality Concrete Holdings Bhd to make road for extracting timber. Note that in the background, the remaining portion of her rubber trees can be seen. The majority were destroyed during the road construction.
Quality Concrete Holdings Bhd did not obtain the landowner’s consent prior to the destruction of her land. This is a direct violation of the condition of the timber license.
3.2 Soil Erosion & Landslides
Figure 4 – One of the landslides along the main logging road
Figure 4 – The mountains generally have very steep gradient and highly prone to landslides.
The picture shows such landslide and soil erosion. More of such landslides are expected during the coming monsoon season at the end of the year.
These landslides and erosion cause immense problems. They will destroy the fruit and rubber trees owned by the natives at the foot of the mountain. Additionally, the soil will pollute the river which is the source of fish and water supply.
3.3 Water Pollution
Figure 5 – View from the main logging road leading towards Sebangan River
Figure 5 – The background of the picture shows the Sebangan River. It is inevitable that this river will become more polluted due to massive soil erosion as the logging activities progress further.
The pollution will not only cause water supply problems but also render the river devoid of fish.
Figure 6 – Sebangan Town water supply pumping station.
Figure 6 – This water pumping station is immediately downstream of the logging camp.
This station supplies water to the Sebangan Town and the surrounding villages downstream of the river.
3.4 Logging of NCR Lands
Figure 7 – Logs extracted from NCR Lands
Figure 7 – Logging continues in spite of the protests from the Dayak Iban natives.
These logs were extracted from the NCR lands. They were reserved by the native land owners for their own future needs.
No prior approval from the land owners were given to extract the logs.
3.5 Destruction of an Ancient Rainforest
Figure 8 – A view of the Bukit Selabu next to Sebangan River where logging is currently carried out.
Figure 8 – A distant view of the damages caused by the logging activities.
Note that feeder roads were constructed to extract tropical timber such as Selangan Batu & Meraka.
4. Closing Remarks.
The rainforests at Sebangan & Sebuyau are the last remaining pristine rainforest in the area. With logging, their destruction is inevitable. The Director Sarawak Forest Department is under the moral obligation to do what is right to protect the rights of the Dayak Iban natives in the area. The livelihood of the Dayak Iban natives depends on these rainforests. Their destruction means the destruction of their way of life. It is believed that the wealth from these rainforests can be sustained through an integrated and wholesome approach of land management. Logging is of short-term gain benefiting the few. Most importantly, logging will have adverse permanent environmental and social impacts for the area.
To stop the destruction of the ancient rainforest at Sebangan & Sebuyau, the Director Sarawak Forest Department needs to retract the license immediately.
Ini adalah pembohongan parti pembangkang berkaitan tanah adat atau NCR. Tanah adat atau NCR ialah tanah yang telah ditebus guna oleh native pada atau sebelum 1.1.1958. Ia mestilah tanah yang ditebang hutan untuk tanaman padi, getah, jagung , lada dan sebagainya. Satu lagi ialah tanah yang ditanam sekurang-sekurangnya 20 batang pokok buah-buahan.
Tanah NCR yang dibiarkan menjadi hutan untuk 3 tahun berturut-turut, akan hilang taraf NCR, Hutan rimba yang dipenuhi oleh pokok hutan, bukanlah tanah NCR sebagaimana yang dilaporkan dalam artikel di atas.
Dalam kes ini jika penduduk boleh membuktikan bahawa tanah tersebut adalah milik NCR, maka bukan sahaja tanah itu akan disukat tetapi kerajaan akan memberikan geran hak milik secara percuma. Persoalannya adakah waris yang meneroka tanah atau kebun getah tersebut dapat membuktikan bahawa tanah itu milik keluarga nya.?