April 01, 2010
According to the Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS), Senior Assistant Registrar of the Miri High Court, Abdul Raafidin bin Majidi on behalf of Justice Datuk Abdul Aziz bin Adul Rahim, ruled that members of the village of Long Teran Kanan possess native customary rights over land that had been granted to IOI by the Sarawak state government. The court said the leases had been issued unconstitutionally and were therefore "null and void."
"With this decision, the court declared that the first and second defendants or its agents or servants are trespassing over the native customary rights land of the plaintiffs and that any damages and loss suffered by the plaintiffs be assessed by the Deputy Registrar of the High Court at a date to be fixed," said BRIMAS in a statement.
"The court awarded both exemplary and aggravated damages against the defendants."
The defendants — the Sarawak Government Land and Survey Department, the Land Custody Development Authority (Pelita) and IOI Pelita Plantation Sdn. Bhd. — are expected to appeal the decision.
Implications for sustainable palm oil
Deforestation by a logging company around a Penan village in the Middle Baram region in Sarawak. Image courtesy of the Bruno Manser Fund
Legal battles for Sarawak's forest people continue
The Long Teran Kanan ruling comes less than three months after authorities destroyed, without warning, 39 Iban homes in the village of Sungai Sekabai in Sarawak in a dispute between the community and state-backed land developer, Tatau Land Sdn Bhf. A Sarawak court shortly thereafter issued an injunction to prevent further demolition.
One of the destroyed homes belonged to Nor Nyawai, a community leader in Sungai Sekabai who famously won a court case in 2001 which recognized native rights over primary rainforest. But while the ruling set a precedent that strengthened native claims to customary lands in Sarawak, the community of Sungai Sekabai has been battling developers ever since. A timber company at the root of the dispute has cleared much of the forest around the community, replacing it with acacia plantations, despite the 2001 court decision.
Commodity trade and urbanization, rather than rural poverty, drive deforestation
(02/07/2010) Deforestation is increasingly correlated to urban population growth and trade rather than rural poverty, suggesting that measures proposed to reduce deforestation will be ineffective if they fail to address demand for commodities produced on forest lands, argues a new paper published in Nature GeoScience.
Amazon deforestation doesn't make communities richer, better educated, or healthier
(06/11/2009) Deforestation generates short-term benefits but fails to increase affluence and quality of life in the long-run, reports a new study based an analysis of forest clearing in 286 municipalities across the Brazilian Amazon. The research, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, casts doubt on the argument that deforestation is a critical step towards development and suggests that mechanisms to compensate communities for keeping forests standing may be a better approach to improving human welfare, while simultaneously sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem services, in rainforest areas.