Sarawak says Mulu park not affected by plantation, plans 1km buffer zone

A file picture of a land cleared near the Mulu National Park in Sarawak. The state government says it will widen the buffer zone between the plantation and the park to 1km amid concerns that an oil palm plantation is encroaching into the native lands.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has denied that oil palm plantation activities are threatening the Mulu National Park, and urged locals not to support a campaign to stop logging works by a company in Mulu.

State assistant minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment, Len Talif Salleh said the campaign would disrupt a major source of income for the state, and that supporting it would be like “digging their own graves”.

“I hope there will be no locals who signed the petition because oil palm is our lifeline,” he told the Sarawak legislative assembly, responding to See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang) on the Save Mulu campaign.

The campaign, launched in February this year, has so far collected about 45,000 signatures.

Len Talif denied that native lands would be affected in the provisional lease (PL) issued to the oil palm company.

He said the Sarawak forestry department and relevant agencies have taken several measures to ensure the plantation activities would not harm the status of the Mulu National Park, which is a world heritage site.

He said a 1km buffer would be imposed between the park and the leased land.

“A 200-metre buffer zone from the boundary of Mulu National Park had already been set up to prevent any disturbances and encroachment,” he said.

The Sarawak forestry department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd are also monitoring the area through air and ground surveillance, he added.

In February, Swiss anti-logging group Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) accused authorities of intimidating the natives for opposing the activities of the oil palm company.

Several native activists also complained to the state government, saying there was encroachment into native lands near the Mulu park, affecting residents who depend on the natural resources for their livelihood.