PETALING JAYA: Two environment-focused civil society organisations (CSOs) have urged the Sarawak forestry department to carry out an independent review of the certification and activities of a timber conglomerate for alleged non-compliance with forest certification standards.
In a report released today, the Borneo Project and Bruno Manser Fonds claim the forest certification is being used to “greenwash” the companies’ “dirty” timber production and to “fool the international market”.
The CSOs also allege a lack of effective monitoring and enforcement by the authorities.
They recommend that the European Union ban the entry of the conglomerate’s timber products to the EU common market under the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) until the issues stated in the report are resolved.
The 100-page report claims the local timber conglomerate has a long and varied history of conflict over indigenous land rights in Sarawak and has contributed to significant environmental degradation.
“This report sounds the alarm for immediate action and transformation within the logging industry in Sarawak, with specific attention to the conglomerate’s practices and the effectiveness of certification bodies,” the CSOs said.
The report also highlights multiple instances where the conglomerate, through its local subsidiaries, allegedly neglected to adequately obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous communities within their logging concessions in many
“Consultations and impact assessments did not adequately inform or assess communities. In some cases, very few people were consulted, or communities were not consulted at all.
“They demonstrate a pattern of failing to adequately obtain the consent of the indigenous communities, which inevitably results in conflict.”
FMT is withholding the identity of the conglomerate pending its comment.
The report also highlights purported legal threats made by the conglomerate against indigenous communities over their opposition to logging activities or when they express dissatisfaction with the consultation process.
It claims the design of the mechanism for the local communities to complain to the conglomerate as well as the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) is “inherently flawed” and a tool to support the timber industry at the expense of the locals and environmental justice.
The CSOs also call on the state forestry department to issue a moratorium on the conglomerate’s logging operations in areas where it has a similar track record of community complaints.
Logging in proposed wildlife sanctuary area
The report claims the conglomerate has logged in an area that was originally slated to become a wildlife sanctuary.
It alleges that the timber giant first began to construct a logging road into the proposed wildlife sanctuary in 2010, and by 2014, “most of the wood resources inside the area had been exploited”.
Satellite images included in the report suggest that logging activities in the proposed wildlife sanctuary areas “intensified” in February 2012.
The report also questioned the effectiveness of the certification processes of MTCC and certification body, Sirim, and enforcement of standards set for the industry.
The CSOs claim the conglomerate has cleared a large area of intact forest to set up oil palm plantations, violating a 5% limit set under the regulations. This should disqualify the produce from the area from certification.
The report says the palm oil from this excised area could fail to meet the requirements under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme, as well as standards under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the EUDR.