425 – Asia & SE Asia Tree News

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In this edition:

Asia & SE Asia Tree News


–Russia: 1) Partnership between WWF and for-profit timber company wins a prize, 2) Fifth of the world’s forested land wants liquidators pronto, 3) Huge forests near minsk,? 4) Virgin Komi Forests,
–China: 5) Security Guards beat and kill forest protestors in riot, 6) Riot erupts after forest plantation company swindles investors,
–Kashmir: 7) Log smugglers go unchecked for 18 years, 8) Villagers say survival depends on smuggling logs, 9) Beerwah Forest Range being destroyed,
–India: 10) Save the western purple-faced langur, 11) Compensatory Afforestation Bill, 12) Assigning economic value to forests, 13) Timber theft finally addressed after chief minister complains, 14) Rakas Reserve Forest,
–Bhutan: 15) Summary of forest use
–Thailand: 16) Villagers win community forest award
–South East Asia: 17) Six Nations meet about future of Mekong river
–Vietnam: 18) Farmers take over and destroy Teak plantations
–Cambodia: 19) 80 minority families file lawsuit against military and big business’ plantation making,
–Korea: 20) Government Delegation studies forest fire fighting in California,
–Philippines: 21) Rampant logging inside 5,676 hectare Aurora Memorial National Park, 22) Thwarting logger plan to kidnap gov. foresters,
–Borneo: 23) A broad river called the Kinabatangan, 24) A 186-mile logging road to the top of the Bario highlands is a road to ruin,
–Malaysia: 25) Dragon Blaze – the luxury lifestyle company promises preservation, 26) Save Lebir forest reserve, 27) Kota Damansara Forest Reserve, 28) Destroying rubber tree forest to drive up prices, 29) Suspension of issuing timber-harvesting permits in communal areas of the Kavango region, 30) Selangor Forestry Department will no longer be allowed to issue permits, 31) Orang Asal survival and identity as a people is linked tospecific ecological niche,



1) Vladivostok – For the first time ever, a partnership between WWF and a for-profit timber company has been awarded a “conservation concession” to restore approximately 10% of the critically endangered Amur leopard’s habitat. The Forest Department of Primorskii Province in the Russian Far East has leased out a forest area of 45,000ha in the south-west of Primorye, which straddles Vladivostok and the Chinese boarder, to the Nerpinskoye Cooperative Society (also known as Nerpinskii rybcoop) for the next 25 years. The last remaining viable wild population of Amur leopard, estimated at less than 40 individuals, is found in this area and WWF and Nerpinskii rybkoop plan to implement a project that will increase biodiversity by selectively removing oak trees, which will open the forest canopy and make way for the more valuable and native spruce, Korean pine and Manchurian fir trees. “Deer and wild boar do much better in a diverse forest with a smattering of nut crops that come into season at different times throughout the year – that’s a good thing for the Amur leopard,” said Dr. Darron Collins, the managing director for the WWF US Amur program. “By recreating the biodiversity of the area, WWF and Nerpinskkii are making it more valuable for humans and species alike.” Funds generated from the small scale extraction of timber will be reinvested in the fire prevention and careful tending of forest stands required to improve the ecological integrity of these forests. The project hopes to increase the coverage of mixed coniferous and broadleaved forests by 33% over the next 40 years. “Only lease holders with long term rights to forest resources on forest use would be prepared to invest the time and energy to restore the forest. We’ve been looking for a reliable partner for this project for many years,“ said Denis Smirnov, head of Forest Program of WWF Russia’s Amur Programme. “Nerpinskii rybcoop, a well-known enterprise in Khasanskii district of Primorye, has become such a partner.” The restoration project will also provide income to local communities in the area through employment in forestry and the sale of Korean pine nuts and charcoal. In such a case, restoration takes on a much larger meaning as forests and communities are restored. http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=148521

2) Russia, holder of a fifth of the world’s forested land, wants to attract 2.2 trillion rubles ($84 billion) of investment by 2020 as it shifts from exporting whole logs to producing paper and finished products. Papermakers including Finland-based UPM Kymmene Oyj are expanding in Russia and China, where paper and board demand was forecast to grow 4.5 percent annually compared with a flat to declining western European market. “There are some indications that demand in Russia will slow down in the future as a result of the financial crisis,” Smushkin said. “We can’t rule out the possibility of having to adjust our business plan if the crisis persists and lasts longer than six months.” Russia’s benchmark Micex stock exchange has halted trading repeatedly in the last month as share prices plunged amid the country’s worst financial crisis since the 1998 default on its debt. “If the situation calms down within a year, everything is going to be OK,” Smushkin said. The company forecasts Russian per capita consumption of paper products to increase to 100 kilograms in 2020 from 46 kilograms in 2007, even taking into account the global economic slowdown and the effect of rising Internet use. Ilim earnings added 8 cents a share to International Paper’s returns of 54 cents a share in the second quarter. The Memphis, Tenn.-based papermaker agreed to pay $650 million for half of Switzerland-based parent company Ilim Holding SA last year, to create the biggest joint venture in Russia’s forestry industry. Ilim Group plans to expand production by 20 to 25 percent by 2014, including a new $1 billion pulp line at its Bratsk mill in Siberia to supply China, where it gets about 60 percent of sales. Prices in China are being pushed down by oversupply, and “we hope they will recover within several months” Smushkin said. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=ajJmgybCTpxk&refer=europe

3) Largely untouched by the excesses of Western capitalism – though the capital, Minsk, has both a McDonald’s (ironically on Lenin Street) and an underground shopping mall – it boasts huge forests, covering a third of the country, 21,000 rivers and 11,000 lakes and is the only nation in Europe where visitors stand a chance of seeing bison in the wild. Most of its 79,923 square miles are taken up with grass, trees or water, meaning it is easy to escape into the Great Outdoors. And, most importantly, it’s cheap. With the average monthly wage £250, restaurants, shops and bars cannot afford to charge too much. Our trip began in the capital, Minsk, 80% of which was destroyed during World War II. The city was rebuilt by the USSR and, though not the most aesthetically pleasing of capitals – it can be summed up in one word: ‘Soviet’ – there is an abiding sense of history throughout. Major building projects are underway across Minsk, including the new arena which will host football and swimming. The site has already been visited and praised by Uefa chairman Michel Platini. A great location to fully appreciate Minsk’s slow transformation is from the 22nd floor of the three-star, 1970s Hotel Belarus which towers over the city. The floor to ceiling windows on both sides of its restaurant offer 180 degree vistas of the capital’s industrial sites and the forests beyond. Minsk prides itself on being at the centre of Europe (if Russia is included in the continent). It’s safe to assume Russian Prime Minister and ex-president Vladimir Putin doesn’t agree with that geographical assertion. A four-sided pyramid stands in October Square, next to the Palace of the Republic listing distances to other capitals. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/travel/travel-news/2008/10/18/hangover-from-a-soviet-past-91466-22059359/

4) The Virgin Komi Forests (61°25′-65°45’N, 57°27′-61°20’E) are a World Heritage Site located in the north-western region of the Komi Republic on the western slopes of the Northern Ural Mountains. It is located in the biogeographical province of the West Eurasian Taiga, within the boundaries of Russia. 3,280,000 hectares (ha), with the main elements being Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve and Biosphere Reserve (730,000 ha), Yugyd Va National Park (1,900,000 ha) and a buffer zone of 650,000 ha. The eastern area of the forest is dominated by the North Ural mountains which are orientated in a north-south direction. They are characterized by mountain-glacier formations, of which the southernmost glaciers occur within the Telpossky massif. The dissolution of limestone along the foothills has resulted in the formation of a karst landscape with subterranean caves, craters and river beds which are seasonally flooded. Weathering in the Ilych, Podcherema, Shchugora and Bolshaya Syn basins has resulted in the formation of columns and residual mountain structures. These are protected as nature monuments. Many of these features are remnant reef structures, the oldest of which date back to the Ordovician Period. The undulating terrain to the west comprises marshes, lowlands and several hills which also give way to mountains. The area to the west comprises marshes and floodplain islands. Low altitude wetter areas such as Sphagnum bogs support Sphagnum moss with cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccus, bilberries and cloudberries. The floodplain island terraces are dominated by willow Salix spp., rowan Sorbus aucuparia, blackcurrant Ribes nigrum and bird cherry Prunus padus. Boreal forest extends from the marshes into the Ural’s foothills and predominantly comprises pine Pinus sylvestris and larch Larix sibirica forest, the latter of which is found in higher areas. Ground cover consists of cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea (R), bilberry V. myrtillus and reindeer mosses Cladonia spp.. Extensive spruce Picea abies, fir Abies sibirica and pine Pinus sylvestris forests are found in the valleys. The Virgin Komi Forests is the only place in Europe where the Siberian pine Pinus sibirica grows. Boreal forest is superseded by subalpine scrub woodlands, meadows, tundras and bear rock areas. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Virgin_Komi_Forests,_Russian_Federation


5) Police in east China have arrested eight security guards allegedly involved in a riot triggered by a dispute between a timber company and villagers, state media said Monday. The riot, which broke out Thursday last week in a disagreement over rent paid by a forestry company in Jiangxi province to farmers for their land, involved almost 200 people and 15 were injured, Xinhua news agency said. The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which regularly issues reports on social unrest in China, earlier said two people were killed and hundreds injured in the violence in Daduan town. It said the riots were triggered when two villagers were killed by employees hired by Lu Hai Forestry Co to guard timber lands in local Tonggu county after it began to suspect locals had been illegally harvesting its timber resources. But police denied there had been any deaths in the riot, Xinhua said. The report said around 150 Daduan residents confronted 30 security guards from the company and attacked the offices of the firm. Police were dispatched and three were injured, Xinhua said, adding that four police cars were overturned. Authorities were still looking for other security guards but no villagers were wanted, Xinhua said. “The security guards were vicious — they hit anyone they saw,” Chen Shilin, 57, who suffered three knife wounds on his back, four on his head and a broken rib, told Xinhua. China sees thousands of such disturbances each year as marginalised segments of society rise up against what they see as the heavy-handed practices of local governments or powerful businesses. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Police_arrest_eight_after_east_China_riot_state_media_999.html

6) Hundreds of people in Beijing scuffled with police outside a government office on Monday, demanding help recovering money from a get-rich-quick scheme involving tree plantations to stem desertification. More than 30,000 investors, mostly retirees, sunk 1.3 billion yuan (109 million pounds) into a company’s tree-planting scheme in the arid northern region of Inner Mongolia, lured by promises of huge returns within eight years. Authorities seized the company’s plantations and sued its directors for false advertising after the project was exposed as a failed pyramid scheme, state media reported earlier this year. Police in Beijing detained several protesters for putting up a banner outside the government office, as angry investors from across the country complained of dead trees and lost life savings. Protesters complained the tree plantations on land transferred for the scheme had been left to wither and die after the company was investigated and its assets seized. “(The company) planted trees in the desert in Inner Mongolia, then sold them to us. It was supposed to green the desert,” said a Beijing resident surnamed Li, who lost about 100,000 yuan in the scheme. “The company planted about 720,000 mu (48,000 hectares), but about 40 percent died,” Li added. The scheme, which saw some farmers transfer their land to the company to use for its plantations, has shone the spotlight on China’s recent rural reforms, which will allow farmers to transfer their land-use rights. China’s rural residents own the product of their land but not the land itself and were barred from trading their land-use rights. The state-owned land system, a hangover from the huge collective communes set up under Mao Zedong, is routinely abused by local governments who often seize rural plots to sell to factories or developers, often paying only minimal compensation to farmers. http://africa.reuters.com/odd/news/usnTRE49J1UW.html


7) Handwara: For last 18 years the timber smugglers are having a field day in the thick and dense forests on outskirts of this north Kashmir township with forest department hardly paying any heed to calls of residents to stop wanton loot of the green gold. Residents of Machipora, Zachaldara and other areas told Greater Kashmir that smugglers are chopping precious Deodar and Kail trees in the forests from last 18 years ‘in connivance with forest officials’. “Day in and out they are cutting trees. The forest officials are hand in glove with smugglers,” said Nazir Ahmed, a resident. They said that smugglers chop off trees during day tome and transport it in night on horsebacks and carts to Handwara township to sell it to band saw mills owners. Taking advantage of situation during June, July and August in valley, locals said that the felling of trees and smuggling of timber increased enormously in this period. “Every day in this period dozens of trees were cut by smugglers and ferried in trucks and tractors from the area. I have never seen such type of lot from ten years,” said Javaid Ahmed, a resident. Pointing towards stretch of burnt stumps, a local wishing anonymity said that forest officials deliberately set them on fire to conceal their ‘misdeeds’. “They set them ablaze to hide their misdeeds, but these pa rtially burnt expose them,” he said. An forest official at Machipora blamed the villagers for the destruction of forests and added that “smuggling without help of locals is not possible.” “They are also paid for their job by the mafia,” he said. The villagers alleged that after 1990 troops also indulged in chopping of trees. “They were forcing carpenters to make furniture from this timber which was later ferried in convoy vehicles to outside the state,” said a resident wishing anonymity. Conservator Forests, North Circle Sopur, Manzoor Ahmed couldn’t be contacted for comment. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?Date=23_10_2008&ItemID=58&cat=21

8) “Please do ask the forest officials to take some measures to stop the wanton loot of forests. We are dependent on forest for our survival,” said the villagers. The Divisional Forest Officer of Pir Panjal, Javaid Andrabi told Greater Kashmir it was impossible for the department to protect every single tree. “We depend for information on people to take action,” he said.The inaction on part of the forest officials has emboldened smugglers in this range who are chopping prized deodar, fur and kail trees on daily basis turning the dense forests into an open fields. “At least 200 to 300 timber smugglers are active in this range. Every day at least 30 to 40 trees are chopped, sliced and ferried to the market on hundreds of horses and even in trucks in connivance with forest officials,” said a group of villagers at Gogaldara here. Besides Gogaldara, Badrakote and Ferozpur are the other two forest areas where the smugglers are having a field day. According to the villagers, the government should intervene and hold all those officers accountable where deforestation has taken place. “The smuggling continues unabated as no official from Forest Protection Force or forest department is visible to protect the green gold,” said Ghulam Rasool, a retired government official. “Whatever is happening is wrong. We can’t see the vandalization of our forests,” he added. At Badrakote, villagers alleged that the forest officials are encouraging the smuggling. “The timber smuggling has increased for the past 8 to 10 months. We are not ready to buy the argument that such massive loot could be possible without the official connivance. The timber smugglers give a fair share of their earnings to forest officials,” said a youth, wising not to be named. He said the smugglers have developed their own “intelligence” mechanism. “Wherever the smugglers work they depute their men all along the forests to signal them. The network is supported by the forest officials,” he alleged. The villagers at Badrakote said the smugglers usually cut the trees during the day and smuggle the logs during night. The villagers said deodar and kail trees are being felled regularly by the smugglers. The destruction of forests is evident as huge columns of smoke could be seen billowing from the forests indicating the presence of smugglers in the forests. “The smoke is emanating from the stumps being burnt by the smugglers to wipe out any evidence,” said Shabir Ahmad, a villager. At Ferozpur, locals said the smugglers don’t fell trees at one spot. “Instead smugglers have resorted to sporadic felling of trees to prevent detection by forest officials,” said Abdur Subhan, a villager. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?Date=16_10_2008&ItemID=26&cat=1

9) Beerwah, Oct 14: Hundreds of stumps of freshly felled trees in the Beerwah Forest Range indicate the cutting of trees by timber smugglers is going on unchecked. The villagers living around these forests suspect nexus between forest officials and smugglers. The villagers told Greater Kashmir that nearly 400 timber smugglers were active in this forest belt. “Everyday we see scores of horses carrying timber which is sold in areas as far as Narbal, Soibugh, Bemina, and even Rambagh,” Ghulam Rasool, a senior citizen and a retired government official. The villagers said the smugglers work in groups. Such massive destruction of forests cannot take place without the connivance of officials of the Forest Department and Forest Protection Force, they added. Deodar, which is preferred in construction of window caskets, doors, panelling, and furniture, has almost vanished from the Beerwah Forest Range, the villagers said. Smugglers have now turned the axes on Kail and Fir. Loot of green gold has been more wanton in Zogoo, Sitharan, Shuglipora, and Drang forest compartments of Beerwah Range, also known as SPSP Range. Mushtaq Ahmad, a Mushroom cultivator in Shuglipora, said the smugglers cut at least 20 to 30 trees everyday in Shuglipora and Sitharan villages. Stumps are burnt to wipe out the evidence, he said. “Till few years ago the forest officials used to act promptly when the villagers would inform them about the activities of smugglers, but now they don’t care,” said Shamim Ahmad, a laborer. The Divisional Forest Officer, Javaid Andrabi, had said the officials were trying to check the cutting and smuggling of trees. Besides Zoogo, Sitharan, Shuglipora and Drang, Andrabi said, there were a few other areas where smugglers were active. “The areas are prone to timber smuggling. It is a chronic problem,” he said. Andrabi said the Forest Protection Force and Police were not cooperating fully with the department to check the smuggling. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?Date=15_10_2008&ItemID=41&cat=21


10) A study recently published in Endangered Species Research focuses on a Sri Lankan primate species. The western purple-faced langur is listed as critically endangered – the highest rating given by the IUCN Red List. Endemic to the island nation, the population has been affected by habitat fragmentation. Their natural habitat is shrinking. Since the 1950s, forested areas have been removed for agriculture, leaving a few isolated forest islands under conservation protection. Logging, grazing, and development have further encroached on habitat. Many remaining groups are small and confined to urban areas – like large gardens and plantation groves – where further growth is impossible. In addition, as monkeys come into more contact with people, there has been escalating conflict. Urban langurs raid gardens and plantations for food, resulting in aggression as overt as shooting and attacks by dogs. To add to the problem, some poaching also occurs with langurs used for traditional medicine and food. Past populations must have been much larger. In fact, forest cover has undergone dramatic changes over the past century or so. Estimated at about 80% of Sri Lankan land in 1880, closed canopy (dense) areas dropped to 25% by 2001 and is further declining. In the specific region crucial to langurs, known as the Wet Zone, only 2% of undisturbed forest is intact. Instead, the landscape is covered with a variety of agricultural ventures – from tea and rubber to cinnamon, cardamom, and rice. Then there are the settlements and small crop patches. Part of the problem is that the langurs are arboreal, preferring to keep to trees rather than travelling on the ground. Where some species would merely walk (or run) from one covered areas to the next, the western purple-faced langur requires a corridor of trees to pass between patches. In the absence of trees sometimes they will resort to hanging on power lines, with lethal effects. Within a group’s home range, individuals will walk along very short stretches of pathway – often roads or fields. http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/science-technology/forest-fragmentation/?r=t

11) The Union government of India has drafted the Compensatory Afforestation Bill, 2008 to establish a compensatory afforestation fund. Revenues collected from agencies that divert forests (even protected ones) for non-forest use will be pooled into this corpus. Net present value (NPV) has been adopted as an economic tool to calculate the compensatory fiscal value of diverted forests. But there are two question marks over the move. Firstly, can forests, especially the protected ones, which provide vital ecological and cultural services, be assigned an economic value in lieu of their diversion? Second, is NPV an appropriate fiscal tool to calculate the ‘compensatory’ value of functioning physical entities such as forests?

12) Let us first consider the issue of assigning economic value to forests. The issue at hand here is assigning a monetary value to goods and services provided by forests. Forest products mentioned in the bill include non-timber forest produce and water, and the services mentioned include grazing, wildlife protection; carbon sequestration and flood control. The bill also takes note of the cultural and educational services of forests. But can monetary compensation make up for the diversion of these services? Take the Shola-grassland ecosystem of the upper Nilgiri Plateau. Here evergreen forests occur amidst the folds of vast undulating stretches of grasslands. Post monsoons these Sholas release stored rainwater and regulate its flow to the Kongu plains below. If these grasslands or sholas were diverted for development could their complex structure and functions be compensated for by money alone? Past actions in diverting grasslands for eucalyptus plantations that fed pulp for paper factories have irreversibly upset the hydrological dynamics of the Nilgiri plateau. Wild grass and insect diversities have declined remarkably. Since these grasslands also served for centuries as material and cultural pastures for the Toda people, conversion into plantations also had implications for their subsistence and rituals. http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/10/27/news0313.htm

13) The forest department had always known that timber theft statistics in the district was worrying but it took one letter from a village headman to chief minister Tarun Gogoi for it to spring into action. Last week, village headman of Hatikhali, A.K. Hagjer, sent a memorandum to Gogoi that the forest monitoring system was slack, which was helping a large number of illegal saw mills to flourish. In his three-page memorandum, Hagjer said if deforestation continued at the current rate, “the teak plantation would be wiped out within three to four months and the district would be left without trees.” The government has spent crores on plantation drives in the three reserve forests of Langting Mupa, Kruming and Borail. Though a security system is in place to arrest timber smuggling, a group of unscrupulous businessmen have acquired permits to set up sawmills in the forests and were siphoning off wood to Nagaon and Lumding. North Cachar Hills district council authorities said they had already received the letter from the village headman and were preparing a strategy to face the crisis, as the allegations “were true.” An urgent meeting has been called on October 21 to discuss security arrangements. Doulogapo said the district has 10 sawmills with permits, but even these have been directed to stop sawing timber by a special order on September 12. Villagers, however, allege that the number of illegal sawmills running inside the reserve forest could be more than a hundred. “Taking advantage of the mysterious silence of the forest department, the situation has taken a turn for the worse in the past few years,” a villager said. A source in the Hojai forest department said more than 3,000 cubic metres of teak and 200 tonnes of medicinal tree parts were seized last year. “Officials attribute this slack forest vigilance to ‘fear of militants’. If they cannot guard the forests for fear of militants, why do they spend money on plantation? We want a high-level inquiry of the utilisation of forest department funds in the district,” said a Zeme Naga youth of Mandardisa. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1081014/jsp/northeast/story_9962256.jsp

14) COMMUNITY INITIATIVE for forest protection: The Rakas Reserve Forest under Angul forest division covers an area of 571.422 hectare of forestland that is protected by the villagers since 1971. On 27.11.1998, the said forest protecting committee was converted to Rakas Van Sarkshman Samiti (VSS) by virtue of an agreement with Forest Department. Accordingly 171.8 Hectare of forest land was allotted to Rakas VSS for protection and management. The forest is predominantly a Sal forest and the trees are yet to attain the maturity/exploitable girth. This forest inhabits many wild animals such as wild boar, black bear, mongoose, elephant and many varieties of birds and animals. In addition to this the forest also includes an elephant path and a stream for which the elephants come to that place to quench their thirst. Violation of Forest Laws: Around 58.096 Hectare of forestland from this well protected Rakas Reserve Forest was diverted for coal mining in favour of Mahanadi Coal Field Ltd. in Angul District of Orissa through a forest clearance letter from MoEF dated November 9, 2005. Interestingly when the permission for forest clearance was sought, nearly 30 heactres of forest land was already broken up for mining. This shows that the mining operation in forest land took place without prior approval of Ministry of Environment and Forest which is in violation of Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act 1980. Though it is clearly mentioned in the forest clearance letter that the forest area diverted for mining purpose should be clearly demarcated with RCC pillars of 4 feet height but no such demarcation line is noticed in the spot. The VSS members complain that they are kept in ignorance regarding the extent of land utilized for coal mining from the VSS protected area. Also they complain that they were not being informed of the valuation of trees present in the diverted area of their protected forest. As per the MoU signed between the forest department and the VSS committee, the committee is supposed to get half of the total valuation of the tree growth. http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=145324


15) With 5,662 households involved in forestry spread over a total land area of 13,660.62 hectares, community forests seem to be making it large for the rural population of the country. Chado Tshering, the chief forestry officer at the Social Forestry Division (SFD), Ministry of Agriculture, said that in the long run, community forests could generate income for rural households through commercialisation of timber as well as non-wood products such as lemon grass, cane, bamboo and mushrooms. According to present norms, community forestry plots must measure 2.5 hectares but, for non-wood products, it could even cross this limit, Chado said. “At present, most of the community forests are being used for the benefit of the household as fuel,” said Chado Tshering, adding that community forests in the southern region had more timber varieties and so had better commercial potential. “Once they start marketing, they will get better values.” It is expected that community forests could begin economically benefitting the rural population in the next five years. Today, 103 community forests are spread across 20 dzongkhags with Punakha having 18, which is the most from all dzongkhags. Punakha is followed by Trashiyangtse with 10 community forests and Lhuentse with eight. The SFD provides technical support by training people in various aspects of management and operation of community forests. “We want the communities to function as an association so that there is better networking and marketing facility,” said Chado. He said that the division was also looking into product development especially with regard to te non-wood forest products. Presently, according to Chado, lemon grass is exported to foreign countries such as USA, Germany, Belgium and Japan via Bio Bhutan as an organic product. Chado also stressed that community forests could address the problem of poverty. He added that as 69 percent of the Bhutanese population was in the rural areas, community forests also helped the majority of the population. A comparative study done on three community forests in Yakpugang, Drametse and Masangdaza in Mongar shows how the funds generated from the community forests made the forests key economical assets for the communities. According to the study, a total fund of Nu 226,727 was generated from the three community forests. Deducting a total expenditure of Nu 90,810 from the total fund, the three community forest management groups were left with a cash balance of Nu 135,917. http://www.bhutanobserver.bt/2008/bhutan-news/10/community-forests-a-boon-for-rural-economy.html


16) PHUKET : Villagers at Ban Pa Klok village in Thalang district have won the Community Forest award for two decades of efforts to protect their forests. They have managed to conserve 450 rai of land and mangrove forests. But they suffered tragedy as one villager was killed as he helped others protect the forests against poachers and loggers. The victim was an elder brother of Jarun Ratchapol, deputy chairman of Ban Pa Klok conservation group. Despite his brother’s death, Mr Jarun said he is not discouraged and will fight on. ”We will continue to conserve the forests for Their Majesties the King and Queen with our lives,” Mr Jarun said after the award ceremony, held by the Royal Forest Department. The villagers were earlier allowed by the department to use certain natural resources in the protected forests, but they are also required to protect the complex ecology, ranging from coral reefs and sea grass to the land forest environment. The practices are under the concept of the community forest. Calling their forests a ”food bank,” Mr Jarun said the village had set its own rules to ensure the sustainability of both nature and the community. Besides protecting the forests against encroachers, residents who cut down one tree need to replant 10 to replace it, for example. Their efforts have borne fruit as the marine and coastal ecology at the village is so abundant that at least 20 rare dugongs have come to feed on the sea grass, he said. However, Mr Jarun is worried about a marina construction project on the resort island, which he said would have a negative impact on marine life. ”Why don’t we restore our natural resources instead?” he said. http://www.bangkokpost.com/181008_News/18Oct2008_news09.php

South East Asia:

17) Experts from six Mekong River nations yesterday agreed that preserving forests was one of the most effective measures to fight the impacts of global climate change. The representatives from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Laos and Myanmar discussed ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation at a workshop that opened in Ha Noi. The workshop, co-hosted by Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the University of Queensland in Australia, also drew presenters from non-Asian countries and international organisations. At the meeting, which will run for four days, participants noted that the earth was getting hotter because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is largely caused by a dramatic increase in burning fossil fuels to produce energy. Viet Nam is one of the five countries that will be worst affected by climate change. If greenhouse gases are not slashed within the next 50 years, sea levels are expected to rise by one metre. The Hong (Red) River and Mekong River deltas, which contain most of the Vietnamese population, would also be affected, according to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hua Duc Nhi. He said that about six million people living in these areas would face flooding as sea levels rose, pushing delta river levels higher. Pham Minh Thoa, deputy head of MARD’s forestry department, said the ministry was building a national framework for sustainable forestry as part of activities to stop deserts forming. She said this had received positive response from the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme. Other participants explained how the world community was trying to build a sustainable forest management model that would increase the absorption of carbon dioxide. Joe Leitmann, environmental co-ordinator for the World Bank in Indonesia, said the bank had set up a carbon-finance mechanism to counter some of the effects of deforestation and degradation on a trial basis in several countries, including Viet Nam. This had enabled large industrial concerns to plant forests or pay for their establishment to counter the release of polluting carbon dioxide and other gases from their factories. http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=109217


18) The Management Board of Tan Phu Forest in Dinh Quan District said more than 12,000 teak trees had been destroyed by humans so far this year. They said the trees had been poisoned with an extremely toxic herbicide. Most of the trees were at least 15 years old with trunks up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Director of Tan Phu Forest Management Board, Nguyen Van Huyen said the illegal deforestation was first detected in July last year. “They made cuts in the trunks and applied strong herbicide to the wounds,” said Nguyen Binh Minh of Tan Phu Management Board . “The trees were dead within a few days.” Minh said the only greenery left in the formerly lush teak forest in section No. 83 of the forest were crops of beans, corn, papaya and coffee planted by local residents. He said authorities had allowed locals to plant some crops in the forest but the residents had begun destroying the trees to clear land for more crops. An official from the forest’s Protection Station A, Nguyen Hoang Tho, said: “The protective force was too thin, allowing the locals to easily poison the trees. They also worked at night to avoid our inspection.” Local resident Vo Van Minh is about to stand trial in the People’s Court of Dinh Quan District on “destruction of property” charges. Minh was allegedly caught poisoning 44 teak trees, valued at VND35 million (US$2,100), with herbicide. Around 7,000 trees had been poisoned in the area but Minh was the only person caught in the act, a forest management official said. Last month, Dinh Quan District People’s Committee demanded an investigation into illegal deforestation in Tan Phu Forest. However, related authorities refused, saying it was too difficult to estimated losses and identify suspects. http://www.thanhniennews.com/society/?catid=3&newsid=43042


19) Nearly 80 minority families in Ratanakkiri province filed suit in provincial court Monday, alleging that a military official and businessman had deforested state land to install a plantation. The 79 families, from Lumphat district, alleged through two representatives that since 2003, Khim Khengchou, 50, a military official, colluded with local businessman Sman Slesh, 51, to produce 600 hectares of rubber and bean plantation. The two cut down trees in protected forest, near where the families live, according to the complaint. In a brief statement by phone Tuesday, Sman Slesh denied the accusations. Khim Khengchou could not be reached for comment. Deputy provincial prosecutor Ros Saram said he had received the complaint, which was filed with the help of the human rights group Adhoc, and would act on it soon. His office was backlogged with many other complaints, he said. Adhoc meanwhile is planning a march in Ratanakkiri town Oct. 27 to demand further implementation of the law and a crackdown on deforestation in the province. The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday agreed to permit the march. http://ki-media.blogspot.com/2008/10/ratanakkiri-families-file-deforestation.html


20) California is not alone. Record numbers of fires and burned acreage in the past decade has also been an issue for the Republic of Korea. That’s why it makes a lot of sense for one country to learn from the other. That came to fruition October 13–15 when a Republic of Korea delegation came to California for a Study Tour of Fire and Aviation Management. Twenty–one Korean Forest Fire Officers and Assistant Directors spent three days learning about fire in California and how the U.S. Forest Service Incident Command System works. They also experienced an Aviation Flight Simulator Demonstration, how the U.S. Forest Service works with other state and federal agencies, and many other fire management topics. In addition to the presentations that took place at the U.S. Forest Service McClellan Wildfire Training Center, the delegation also visited the Cal Fire Aviation Facility, Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services and California Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento. On their final day the group traveled to the Eldorado National Forest. The field trip included a site visit of the 2004 Fred Fire near Kyburz, Calif., the Big Hill Fire Lookout Tower, a Fuels Reduction Project, a Forest Fire Cache and finally the Camino Interagency Dispatch Center where the delegation received an overview of the Fire Safe Council Program and Fire Prevention Program used on the Eldorado National Forest. The Korean delegation also enjoyed checking out all the various equipment used at the Forest Fire Cache in Camino, Calif. where they also were able to get a full tour of a fire engine. http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/spotlight/koreandelegationstudytour.php


21) Illegal logging has gone rampant inside the 5,676 hectare Aurora Memorial National Park with illegal loggers, many of whom heavily armed, imposing their will on law enforcers. A provincial board member said that illegal loggers have feasted on forest products inside the park, sneaking out thousands of board feet of logs, particularly at nighttime. During the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan at the provincial Capitol Tuesday afternoon, Board Member Mariano Tangson decried that illegal loggers have invaded the park without being detected by the Philippine National Police and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Grabe na talaga ang illegal logging (Illegal logging has gone worse),” he said before the SP presided by Vice Gov. Gerry Noveras. Tangson, also decried that illegal logging goes on unabated despite the presence of a DENR sub-office and police detachment in Sitio Dimani, Barangay Villa. Barangay Villa has become notorious due to illegal logging after calamities in 2004 triggered flash floods that destroyed a steel bridge and killed 13 people. The SP earlier summoned PNP provincial director, Senior Superintendent Romeo Teope and other police, DENR and barangay officials to shed light on the rampant illegal logging at the AMNP. On Monday night, authorities recovered 1,000 board feet of abandoned logs at Dimani. Two weeks ago, a truckload of logs fell on its side because it was heavy wit logs, also in Dimani. Illegal logging was also blamed for the two-day brownout which struck Ma. Aurora town over the weekend when cut logs fell into ?power lines Saturday. Tangson, a former three-term mayor of San Luis town, said the PNP appears helpless in stopping logging at the park, even with a police contingent assigned at the site. “It’s so brazen, it’s an eyesore that in Aurora, vehicles loaded with illegal logs pass through the checkpoints of the DENR and the PNP and they don’t see it. I don’t know if they don’t see it or they are playing blind to what is happening),” he said. Last month, Tangson said in a privilege speech that an average of 70,000 to 80,000 board feet of illegal logs are being spirited out of the park monthly. They are being loaded in kolong kolong (tricycles) particularly during nighttime, he said. Citing unnamed sources, he said around 130 illegal loggers are involved in the massive destruction of forest resources inside the park. Teope said illegal loggers at the park are heavily armed. He said the police force should be augmented by producing more warm bodies to form a united front against the perpetrators. “If you have only a few bodies to man the park, it’s like feeding them to the wolves,” he said, adding that they are outnumbered by the illegal loggers. Inspector Michael Amio, Ma. Aurora police chief, said while they were bent on stopping illegal logging, they could not do so without the cooperation of barangay folk. Victorino Supsup, barangay chairman of Villa, said illegal loggers have devised ways to avoid detection by police. He said chainsaws used in felling down logs are equipped with silencers. Afterwards, the chainsaws are being buried in pits and covered with soil to avoid getting confiscated by authorities.http://philrealtyinfonews.blogspot.com/2008/10/rampant-illegal-logging-at-aurora-natl.html

22) LA PAZ, Agusan del Sur – The suspects armed with high-powered firearm were allegedly planning to kidnap the foresters after the foresters were investigating and seen taking pictures of huge volume of abandoned logs worth millions of pesos cut by local residents in the area. Allegedly a logging firm paid the locals to illegally cut the timber mostly restricted hard wood species within the 56,745 hectares ancestral domain area of the Manobo Indigenous Community People in La Paz and Loreto towns. The act of cutting restricted wood species in public timberland areas is not only a wanton violation of environmental laws but IPRA or Indigenous People’s Rights Act laws also. The kidnapping attempt was confirmed by Private Foresters Jundie Canen, DENR Forester Benito Licayan, MENRO Claro Perez and the survey team’s helpers named only as Yonyong and Junjie. Forester I Benito Licayan who is working with the Forest Development and Protection Section of the DENR Caraga regional office even jokingly told his companions and Rolando Coguit that if the kidnap-attempt took place, it was his second time experience to be kidnap. Licayan was kidnapped along with four DENR foresters and forest rangers inspecting an alleged illegal logging and mining activities in the forest in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur last year. Licayan admitted to his friends, DENR allegedly paid ransom money of P60,000 for his release. According to Licayan, the armed men got irked when they took photos of huge volumes of abandoned logs in the area. This time Manobo Indigenous People Community member tribesmen headed by its tribal chieftains Bae Merlyn Coguit-Hernandez and her brother Rolando Coguit saved the lives of six foresters in kidnapping attempt by still unidentified armed group last Friday in Sitio Kalampangan, Barangay Kasapa II of this town. Tribal warrior chieftain Rolando Coguit admitted in an affidavit that he and wife, Imelda and his men went to Sitio Kalampangan some 17 kilometers away from Poblacion La Paz to fetch La Paz Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) Claro Perez, DENR forester Benito Licayan and four other private foresters after his group received reports unidentified armed men were out to kidnap the foresters. http://mindanao.com/blog/?p=5548


23) The day starts well before dawn with the lunatic hooting of gibbons, the rain forest’s alarm clock, lovers and rivals wooing and warning each other from the treetops in an urgent ape language that I, their terrestrial relative, can only guess at. From my camp a creekside trail leads into forest past trees whose massive trunks rise a hundred feet to the lowest branches. As sunlight makes its feeble way through the dense green canopy, another primate, a long-tailed macaque, walks along the stream below, hoping for a breakfast of fish or frog. Whether it’s successful or not, its expression of perpetual irritation will never change. No sooner has the monkey disappeared upstream than a pair of short-tailed mongooses bound down to the bank, seemingly more intent on fun than food. At a clearing, a pair of rhinoceros hornbills fly to a fruiting tree on loud-whooshing wings and begin to feed. Mostly black, nearly the size of turkeys, they have huge red-and-yellow casques on their bills that gleam in the sun like polished lacquer. The birds outshine everything else in the forest until a hand-size shape flits erratically past at waist level, deep velvety black, but also crimson and electric green, screaming neon green, a color as gaudy as the name of this creature: Rajah Brooke’s birdwing. At almost seven inches across, it’s one of the largest butterflies in the world. If the rhinoceros hornbill doesn’t take your breath away—if the Rajah Brooke’s birdwing doesn’t—have someone hold your wrist and check for a pulse. Later I take a small boat down a broad river called the Kinabatangan, then up a side channel as narrow as an alleyway. A troop of proboscis monkeys climb through the branches overhead, where they will spend the night in tall trees beside the water. The potbellied male, ridiculously outsize nose hanging from his face like a ripe fruit, is so ugly he’s endearing, in a kind of bibulous-old-uncle way. Most of the pointy-nosed females under his watch cradle young at their breasts. Silvered leaf monkeys look down from above, and a bearded pig stands just inside the forest to watch us pass. As the boat drifts below an overhanging branch, a four-foot-long water monitor lizard drops into the water. A Borneo pygmy elephant enters the river and swims in front of the boat, blowing like a whale. “Pygmy” it may be in comparison to other elephants, but when it emerges dark and shining on the opposite bank, it’s as if an island is rising from the sea. I see where it’s going: A herd of around 30 animals—a long-tusked bull, many adult females, and various young—munch tangled vines beside the main river, expressionless as statues and only marginally more animated. http://redapes.org/palm-oil/national-geographic-borneos-moment-of-truth/

24) A 186-mile (300-km) logging road to the top of the Bario highlands in northern Sarawak puts the state’s increasingly rare natural forest at risk, warns the Borneo Resources Institute, a grassroots environmental group. As reported by the Malaysian Star, the road was constructed by Samling Corporation, a timber company, to open up the interior to industrial logging. “From what I know, the road was constructed by a timber company, not by the Government,” Raymond Abin, Sarawak coordinator for the Borneo Resources Institute, told the Star. “Does this mean that the timber firm has been given the right to harvest the timber in the forests where the logging road runs through? “Our institute is worried that the construction of this logging road is merely a front for the opening of the whole Bario highlands for timber extraction,” he continued. “The Bario highlands is a very ecologically-important region. The ecosystem and the weather system there is very fragile.” http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1022-borneo.html


25) Dragon Blaze – the luxury lifestyle company – has announced today a unique initiative to ensure that the preservation of existing rainforest is both sustainable and financially viable, without government or public funding. Dragon Blaze, through a subsidiary, has acquired over 800,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest, which is sufficient to offset the carbon emissions of the equivalent of between 24 million and 40 million typical US households (on the basis that they use electricity from coal ‘s8211; fired generation, and drive a car an average of 10,000 miles per annum at 25mpg.) It is Dragon Blaze’s view that: 1) Preserving the rainforest through charitable donations or subsidies from governments or state bodies is not sustainable in the long term, and that without securing them, and ensuring that deforestation does not take place, preserving notional’s blocks of rainforest, will not work. Satellite photographs alone do not stop burning, logging and other forms of deforestation. They simply record it. 2) The rainforest must pay for itself in order to be sustainable. This means that its commercial value must be unlocked.Dragon Blaze has committed to: 1) Ensuing that all of its activities ‘s8211; commercial or otherwise will have a zero carbon footprint at a minimum. 2) Working with its highly influential and wealthy Private Members and their business associates to increase the sales and profitability of their own private enterprises/endeavours by ensuring that their products and services have a zero carbon footprint. 3) Investing in research into renewable and sustainable rainforest produce to create high value natural healthcare and medicinal products, which will further attribute real commercial value to the rainforest. — Rainforest Capital SA, a Luxembourg-based associated company of Dragon Blaze, has announced that it is issuing Eurobonds, backed by carbon credits from the rainforest owned by Dragon Blaze, to finance additional acquisitions of rainforest and to fund sustainable preservation programmes. According to Robert Clarke, General Manager of Rainforest Capital SA, ‘s8220;At present, Governments have their hands full funding their own flagging banking systems, so we can hardly rely on them. It is time that private money ensures that the remaining rainforest we still have is preserved on a renewable and sustainable basis. About Dragon Blaze: Dragon Blaze is part of a privately owned group of companies with other interests in Eurobonds, medical research and technology. The Group is also one of the largest private owners of rainforest in the world. Dragon Blaze has created an exclusive world, redefining notions of seamless luxury and individualized perfection. A flawlessly tailored experience is limited to only 50 Private Members, provided by an organisation dedicated to the pursuit of perfection: http://www.dragonblaze.com http://www.prnewsnow.com/Public_Release/Travel%20And%20Tourism/239281.html

26) GUA MUSANG – The Kelantan government was today urged not to approve logging in the Lebir forest reserve as this could cause serious environmental damage to the Kuala Koh national park. Gua Musang Umno Youth chief Bazlan Baharuddin alleged that a private company was doing land clearing work at the reserve for receiving logs and had also built kongsi houses for logging workers there. “We do not want the state government too be hasty in approving logging in the reserve. The park is a precious environmental heritage,” he told reporters here today. http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/state_news/news.php?id=367121&cat=et

27) Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong said that the Kota Damansara Forest Reserve nearly became a victim of development recently. She said the state had prevented several possible attempts by stopping the degazetting of 121.4ha of the area given to Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB) several years ago. Wong said the state was also in the process of recovering a further 121.4ha from the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS) and several other companies that were given verbal assurances. Wong, who was officiating at the Canon Goes Green event at Padang Kota Damansara yesterday, also said the state hoped to increase the percentage of forest reserves to 40%. She said the move had been suggested in discussions with the state Forestry Department and the Town and Country Planning Department but no decision had been made yet. According to her, the state was looking into re-acquiring land and restoring logged areas as some of the steps to achieve this. “Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has mentioned that some 5,000ha of forest reserve land has disappeared in the past five years and the state has to put its foot down to stop illegal deforestation,” she said. More than 700 people turned up as early as 7.30am to plant tree saplings at the public park comprising 4.04ha of forested area and 3.24ha of open fields The event was organised by Canon Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd, the Global Environment Centre (GEC), the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Selangor Forestry Department. Wong urged individuals and corporations to commit themselves to long-term environmental conservation efforts. She said that corporations were displaying increased concern but had not taken a pro-active role in minimising the negative impact their operations had on the environment. http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/10/20/central/2321447&sec=central

28) Malaysia plans to reduce rubber supplies by chopping down old trees in a bid to boost prices from three-year lows. The country expects to remove as much as 38,000 tons a year from the market by accelerating its replanting program involving 32,000 hectares of existing rubber land, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Peter Chin said in a statement today. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, the top three producers, will meet in Bangkok tomorrow to discuss a so-called Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme to co-ordinate export marketing, the statement said, without elaborating. They are seeking to boost prices that have plunged 52 percent from a 28-year high in June. Speeding replanting “is the quickest way to cut supply,” said Ben Santoso, a plantation analyst at DBS Vickers Securities in Singapore. “Still, the government has to come up with incentives to encourage farmers to do that.” Malaysia produces 1.2 million tons a year, according to the Ministry of Finance. About 20 percent of its trees are more than 25 years old, the plantation ministry said. The government will pay 7,000 ringgit ($1,950) a hectare to farmers as compensation for felling trees, said Low Yew Eng, director at the ministry’s rubber division. “Many farmers are still tapping trees that are already so much older than 25 years, so they are no longer productive,” Low said in a telephone interview. “They can use the money for land clearing and to buy new seeds during the replanting period, which is about four to six years,” he said. Thailand may cut down rubber trees to reduce production by 100,000 tons next year, the Bangkok Post said Oct. 24, citing Luckchai Kittipol, president of the Thai Rubber Association. Indonesia will urge growers to reduce the frequency of tree tapping to curb production and boost prices, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said Oct. 16. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=amk0F_IO3tfI&refer=asia

29) RUNDU, Oct 14 (Bernama) — The suspension of issuing timber-harvesting permits in communal areas of the Kavango region has remained in force for almost a year now, Namibian news agency, NAMPA, reported. The decision to stop issuing timber-harvesting permits came into effect in November last year, and forms part of minimising the excessive harvesting of trees in the region. It was prompted by the increasing cases of illegal logs, and non-compliance of permit holders. Rundu District Forestry officer Mwiikinghi Jonas told Nampa on Monday that the permit decision is still on, and that this suspension will not be lifted anytime soon. Jonas explained that the Directorate of Forestry is not in favour of the transportation of raw materials such as timber from this region to elsewhere, saying such activities are depleting natural resources and also not benefiting the communities. “Nobody is allowed to harvest timber in communal areas because it’s not adding value to the communities”, he stressed. He said those wishing to apply for timber harvesting permits should do so with the Community Forestry Offices, and not with the District Forestry office any longer. There are currently about five gazetted community forestry settings in the region. They are the Ncumgara community forestry, Ncaute, Ncamagoro, Mbeyo and Hansi Kanyinga community forestry. Last year alone, about 40 cases of illegal logging of timber were reported to the District Forestry office. A person found in possession of illegal forestry products like timber is liable to a fine of up to N.dollars 8000 (RM3,063.41) or two years imprisonment, or both. http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=364356

30) The Selangor Forestry Department will no longer be allowed to issue permits for agriculture, logging and quarry activities in forest areas, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said. He said although applications for such permit could still be made through the department, the approval would be decided by the Selangor Economic Action Council and state executive councillors. Abdul Khalid said the decision was to ensure that forest reserves were managed properly. “There are already areas earmarked as forest reserve and nothing should be done to jeopardise the reserve. “Due to the loose arrangement before, there are occasions where discretionary approvals were given to villagers to use fringes of the forest for vegetable planting,” he told reporters after chairing a weekly executive councillors’ meeting here today. Abdul Khalid said the move was not meant to increase bureaucracy but merely to safeguard the forest reserve. As such, he said, those who had received permits from the Forestry Department to farm in forest reserves should vacate the area or apply for fresh permits to continue their activities. Should their applications be rejected by the state government, they would be given sufficient time to vacate the area, he said. http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Friday/NewsBreak/20081017203344/Article/index_html

31) First, it is important to appreciate that the one distinctive feature that differentiates indigenous peoples from others is their special attachment to their traditional territories. In fact, Orang Asal survival and identity as a people is very much linked to the specific ecological niche that they call their nenggirik, adat land or native customary land. The elements of Orang Asal identity – their spirituality, their customs, their culture, their traditions and their worldview – owe its conceptualisation to the Orang Asal’s attachment to this particular territory. Consequently, any change in the nature and extent of the traditional territory (whether through its physical ruin or whether the Orang Asal are involuntarily relocated away from it) will have significant impact on their identity and survival as a people. The indigenous peoples of Malaysia are not a homogenous group. In Peninsular Malaysia, they are distributed culturally and linguistically among 19 distinct ethnic groups (e.g. Semai, Jakun, Temiar, Mah Meri and Orang Kanaq) and are collectively called Orang Asli. They number 145,000 today i.e. only 0.5 per cent of the national population. In Sabah, the indigenous communities are a majority in the state, making up 85 per cent of the state population of 2 million. The 39 ethnic groups – including Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Paitan and Bajau – are collectively referred to as Anak Negeri or natives of the state. In Sarawak, the indigenous groups, now commonly referred to collectively as Dayak and Orang Ulu, account for 44 per cent of the state population of 2.2 million. The Dayak groups include the Iban, Melanau and Bidayuh while Orang Ulu groups include the Penan, Ukit, and Kenyah. The threats to Orang Asal lands today come from a variety of sources: development projects (such as dams, highways, golf courses, universities and housing projects) as well as from logging and agricultural expansion schemes. Invariably it is frequently businesses that encroach on, and often appropriate, indigenous traditional territories on a large scale. The Sarawak government, for example, recently revealed that as of 1st December 2004, 38 forest plantation licences covering a total of 2.4 million hectares had been issued. And most of the areas are lands claimed by the native peoples there. http://sarawakheadhunter.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-afraid-jabu-doesnt-want-to-be_14.html

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