Malaysians Still Waiting For Action By Adenan Satem On Peatland Clearing By BLD Plantation

 

28761-drainage-canal-in-a-very-recently-cleared-area

To this date Malaysian palm oil company BLD Plantation Berhad (BLD) continues to massively clear carbon-rich peatland. According to the Malaysian NGO Friends of the Orangutans (FOTO), this severely affects the environment and the local communities in BLD’s 20,446 hectares (ha) concession located in the Sibu region, Sarawak.

FOTO’s satellite image analysis showed that between June 30th and September 18th 2015 BLD cleared an average of over 10 ha a day (or 910 ha in 90 days) mostly in the South and in the centre of the concession. “Since the year 2000 the amount of peat forest lost in BLD’s Sibu concession has been well over 12,000 ha and deforestation is uuill rampant”, attested Upreshpal Singh, FOTO’s Director.

Deforestation (red) and forest degradation (orange) activity of BLD in their concession (dashed line) from 2001 to September 2015

Deforestation (red) and forest degradation (orange) activity of BLD in their concession (dashed line) from 2001 to September 2015

Clearing peat forest for agriculture, especially where it is very deep like in BLD’s concession, has disastrous consequences such as a massive release of carbon dioxide (from draining the peat with canals), increasing of fire risk, and prolonged flooding which will eventually cause the land to be unproductive for agriculture, as has been highlighted in a study by Wetlands International in mid-2015.

Local villagers also stated that threatened species once inhabiting the area (Hornbills, Proboscis Monkeys or Wild Cattle for example) became extremely rare since BLD started deforesting.

In addition to harming the environment BLD’s activities also impact the Iban and Melanau communities whose NCR lands overlap with the company’s concession.

According to data provided by the  Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), BLD’s plantations cover about 47% (4,127 ha) of the Iban’s NCR lands from kampung Tutus, one of the affected communities that will bring the case of land-grabbing to court in February, according to Matek Geram from SADIA. It will not be the first lawsuit BLD Plantation group will face for land-grabbing’s allegations by local communities.

In addition to harming the environment BLD’s activities also impact the Iban and Melanau communities whose NCR lands overlap with the company’s concession.

According to data provided by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), BLD’s plantations cover about 47% (4,127 ha) of the Iban’s NCR lands from Kampung Tutus, one of the affected communities that will bring the case of land-grabbing to court in February, according to Matek Geram from SADIA.

It will not be the first lawsuit BLD Plantation group will face for land-grabbing’s allegations by local communities.

Villagers from kampung Tutus in front of a drainage canal built by BLD in the South-East of the concession in preparation for more palm oil planting

FOTO with other local and international environmental activists repeatedly contacted the Sarawak Chief Minister’s office after a meeting held in early October 2015 with Adenan Satem to discuss the issues of deforestation and land-grabbing by BLD Plantation.

To date, all attempts to ask the chief minister to intervene have been ignored, claims FOTO.

In early 2015 the Sarawak chief minister declared “We have enough of that already and we are not going to open up any more [palm oil] plantations”. BLD’s activities are very embarrassing to Tan Sri Adenan’s promises; however the chief minister does not show evidence of his intention to stop BLD from further destruction.

“We are very disappointed we never received any reply from the chief minister while he claims to want to protect Sarawak forests”, concluded Upreshpal. “It looks like it is still business as usual in Sarawak“.

A stationary BLD  machinery used to create drainage canal before new oil palm planting in the South-West of the concession (30/11/2015)

A stationary BLD machinery used to create drainage canal before new oil palm planting in the South-West of the concession (30/11/2015)

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