Logging the Rainforest
Published: 27 February 2015
The recent report (New Straits Times, 26 February 2015) that a former forestry officer in Hulu Perak had more than RM3.1 million in his bank accounts when he was caught accepting bribes totaling RM100,000.00 from loggers, gives a hint as to why the Orang Asli are having so much trouble getting the loggers off their customary lands in the forests fringing the Temenggor Dam in Perak.
In the past, the Orang Asli would reluctantly agree to the logging after being told that the government needed to do so in order to generate income for development. Some Orang Asli representatives would also put self-interest before that of the community and work in cahoots with the loggers to allow the logging, in return for some monetary compensation. Other promises would also be made by the loggers.
But the Orang Asli are wiser now, after a history of broken promises, destroyed environments and fractured livelihoods. And they want the logging stopped altogether. The newly-formed Ulu Perak Action committee met the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) in Grik today to voice their concerns. They plan to hand over a memorandum to the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) in March.
CN-COAC | 27 February 2015
Logging tracks (white gaps) in the hills behind the Jahai settlement reveal the reach of the loggers.
After almost 2 decades of logging the surrounding lowland forests, including the inundated lake area, the loggers are now placing their sights on the forested hills inland.
These are rich untouched forests, important for people and wildlife.
Photo taken by the Orang Asli showing the activity inside the forests. Because there are no signboards displaying the logging licence, they suspect it was illegal logging.
The Orang Asli who took this photo is still puzzled as to why the loggers had to burn good timber. If it was not good timber, why cut it in the first place? The suspicion is that the loggers were trying to destroy evidence.