No New Timber Concessions Issued, Sarawak Stands Firm On Logging

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Logging in Sarawak has often brought controversy, especially lands under Native Customary Rights claim, with the indigenous people often displaced by the rich and famous loggers.

KUCHING – Sarawak stands firm that there would be no more new timber concessions issued, as pledged by Tan Sri Adenan Satem on several occasions since his appointment as chief minister.

State Resource Planning and Environment Ministry’s permanent secretary, Datuk Sudarsono Osman clarified that the Occupation Ticket (OT) licence and Letter of Authority (LA), however, were still issued by the Forestry Department from time to time upon application, to assist the landowners to properly dispose the timber in land clearing activities for development.

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“These timber are only for local processing and not for export. If the OT or LA is not issued, the timber that may have commercial value will go to waste,” he said at a press conference at Wisma Bapa, here, Monday.

The Statement In Full – by Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Resource Planning and Environment Sarawak and the Director of Forest Department Sarawak

“WE are making this press statement in response to the article that appeared in the Borneo Post, dated 4th December 2016 and entitled “Directive on Timber Licences flouted?”.

I wish to state on record that the Directive by the Chief Minister in regard to issuance of Timber Licence has been strictly adhered to by the Forest Department.

The Chief Minister had on several occasions announced that:

  1. There will be no more new timber concessions.
  2. No more new alienations of Stateland for commercial oil palm plantation except for land approved for Ladang Rakyat and NCR Land Development.

The above directive by the Chief Minister has been complied with.

In the process of land development, there would be large volume of timber to be cleared, which may be of commercial value.

This is where the Forest Department will, upon application, consider issuing Occupational Ticket (OT) licence or Letter of Authority (LA) to assist landowners to properly dispose the timber. These timbers are only for local processing and not for export. If OT or LA is not issued, then the timber that may have commercial value will go to waste.

Occupational Ticket (OT), which is commonly called OT Licence, and LA are issued over lands that have been approved for development or agriculture conversion. LA is issued over an area of less than 100ha while OT is issued over area of above 100ha.

Tropical rainforest and one of the world's richest, oldest eco-systems, flora and fauna, under threat from development, logging and deforestation. Home to indigenous Dayak native tribal peoples, farming by slash and burn cultivation, fishing and hunting wild boar. Home to the Penan, traditional nomadic hunter-gatherers, of whom only one thousand survive, eating roots, and hunting wild animals with blowpipes. Animists, Christians, they still practice traditional medicine from herbs and plants. Native people have mounted protests and blockades against logging concessions, many have been arrested and imprisoned.
Tropical rainforest and one of the world’s richest, oldest eco-systems, flora and fauna, under threat from development, logging and deforestation. Home to indigenous Dayak native tribal peoples, farming by slash and burn cultivation, fishing and hunting wild boar. – Internet photo

The Forest Department is very strict in considering applications for OT Licence. The issuance of OT Licence is governed by stringent terms and conditions which among others include the following;

i. The NCR land must be gazetted under Section 6 of the Land Code.

ii. The project approval letter from LCDA, SALCRA, DOA, MPOB, RISDA, FELCRA or joint venture (JV) agreement with private sector on development of the land.

iii. Planting and development plan for the area must be submitted to Forest Department.

iv. To carry out 100% enumeration of all commercial trees of 30cm DBH and above. For joint venture (JV) project; the company must submit the company profile (Form 24, 49 & 32A). These records would be screened through MACC to ensure transparency and detection of adverse records.

v. Minutes of meeting from JKKK endorsed by District Officer indicating agreement and support by the anakbiaks towards the development of the area. The minute of meeting must include the appointment of AJK to monitor the progress of planting after the land has been cleared.

vi. The copies of Identity Cards of participants must be verified and certified by District Officer or Commissioner of Oaths.

vii. The documents specified from (i) to (vii) must be verified and certified by District Officer or Commissioner of Oaths.

viii. For area that falls within water catchment and exceeding 500ha, EIA approval must be obtained from NREB before they proceed with the project.

Should there be any dispute; the Forest Department shall suspend the licence until the issue has been resolved amicably. Failure to resolve the issue, the licence shall be subject for cancellation.

As at today (05.12.2016); the number of valid OT licences over gazetted NCR area issued by Forest Department over the year 20iL4 to 2016 is as follows;

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Specifically referring to the case mentioned by the Pang Junan People’s Association (PJPA), the land referred to is situated at Ulu Ngemah, Kanowit. The chronology of the case involving OT/3666 is as follows:

1. Smartgold Resources Sdn. Bhd. applied for OT Licence in 20.05.2014 but was rejected as the area applied was not yet gazetted then.

2. On 29 August 2016, the Smartgold submit an application with the proof of the Gazette Notification of NCR area.

3. The Gazette Notification (Swk.L.N. 197) was published on 30th June 2014. The Notification stated that the land has been declared as Native Communal Reserve for the exclusive use by the lban community of Sg. Beno/Sg. Kajah/Sg. Bugau/Sg. Laup/Sg. Lakah/Jagau/Rantau Lugai, and Ulu Ngemah, Kanowit.

4. Penghulu Juni anak Masam is the promoter of this NCR land which is to be developed for oil palm plantation development. He produced the Agreement made on 03.10.2016, signed by all the participants.

5. In support of the application, he produced the minutes of meeting chaired by himself. According to minutes it was reported that all the tuai rumah and anak biak agree on the development of NCR land. The meeting was attended by 15 Tuai Rumah including Tr. Entili anak Agong, Tr. Menua anak Besi and 56 anakbiaks. The said meeting was held on 30.08.2016 and the minutes of meeting was stamped at Lembaga Hasil denoting the minute of meeting is genuine.

6. The area applied covers approximately 4,800 ha; but the Forest Department approved 908 ha under the first phase of the development, according to the planting plan.

7. Following the complaints from Pang Junan People’s Association led by Tuai Rumah Enteli anak Agong, which was reported by the Borneo Post dated 20th November 2016, the Director of Forest has suspended the OT Licence for further investigation.

Dated 5 December 2016