MIRI – A delegation of Penan representing 18 villages are grateful that the government has finally consented to discuss their proposed Penan Peace Park (PPP).
The meeting held in Miri recently, (18 February 2016) saw representatives of the Penan communities, lead by Encik James Lalo Kesoh, formally presenting their proposal to the government. The government’s representatives were led by State Forestry Director Encik Sapuan Ahmad together with the Deputy Resident of Miri, Encik Abdul Aziz Mohd Ysusf and the Penan Paramount Chief Temagong Datuk Hassan Sui.
PPP is a proposed community managed protected area to maintain a unique and species-rich ecosystem in the Upper Baram. The 1628 square kilometres area in Upper Baram extends to some areas in Tutoh and the Akah rivers.
The proposed protection of the ecosystem is by promoting land usage with alternative methods to generate income for the people without impacting the biosphere.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Encik Sapuan Ahmad said that the government welcomes the proposal by the Penan delegation and was willing to do further studies with the collaboration of the villagers in the area.
Encik James Laloh Kesoh, on behalf of the Penans, acknowledged the positive response by the representatives from the government and he therefore requested that all logging activities in the area to be put on an immediate moratorium. He also requested that all lawsuits by the government against the Penan concerning the said land to be withdrawn.
In his answer to Encik James Laloh Keshoh, Encik Sapuan Ahmad said that the government is willing to consider the proposal and he requested for a written application from the Penans to support it.
The proposed protected area and its surroundings play a very important role with regard to fauna as well. According to a survey by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) for the Pulong Tau National Park, which is adjacent to the proposed area, it represents a “biological hotspot”. A total number of more than 300 species have been found, these include fish, amphibians, mammal, birds and many more. At least 56 of the documented animals species are endemic in Borneo and 52 are listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.