CONSULTATION WORKSHOP ON PROPOSED BARAM ECO-COMMUNITY FORESTCONSULTATION WORKSHOP ON PROPOSED BARAM ECO-COMMUNITY FOREST

"If all parties agree, then why don’t we implement this project?". Quoting the words from the late YAB Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Adenan Satem, it clearly indicates the need for consent from all communities living in Ulu Baram within the proposed Baram Eco-Community Forest (BECF) area to realize the establishment.

BECF is a community-oriented initiative to promote the conservation of ecosystem and sustainable development for the benefit of the indigenous communities in the upper Baram area of Sarawak. It aspires to explore innovative solutions, establishing a cutting-edge conservation project collaboratively implemented by indigenous communities and state government.

The proposed BECF area is about 283,000 hectares and has 32 villages comprising multi-racial settlements of Penan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Saban.The BECF proposal is still in its early stages, therefore, with this workshop, Forest Department Sarawak through Social Forestry Division are seeking feedback from the community leaders within the BECF area to identify the next steps that can be taken for community development in the future.

In 2009, the Penan community in the upper Baram area has highlighted the proposal to set up the Declaration of Penan Peace Park (PPP) at Ba Ajeng. Then followed by the various initiatives they had undertaken to obtain the consent of the superiors, however their suggestions was disregarded. The attempt to protect the upper Baram and seek sustainable development in ecological, economic, and social matters, was then followed by submission of the initial proposal by several Penan representatives to the late Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem in 2015 during his meeting with international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in London.

Following the meeting with the late Adenan Satem, a pre-proposal was then submitted to the Forest Department Sarawak and the Department has taken a preliminary step by holding a meeting with the NGOs;Keruan Organization and Save Rivers Network, the community leaders, and the village chiefs in the upper Baram area to discuss the issue of the establishment of the Penan Peace Park (PPP). The meeting has recommended to include all communities living in the BECF area - Penan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Saban - in an initiative project called Baram Peace Park (BPP).

“The then-BPP is now proposed as Baram Eco-Community Forest (BECF) but the name has not yet been finalized and can be changed accordingly”, as said by the State Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad in his inaugural speech for Consultation Workshop on Proposed BECF at Miri. The workshop on Aug 14 aimed to inform the communities involved about the proposed BECFproject as well as to get their feedback and opinions to make sure every villages within the proposed BECF area are on board the project.

“The Department wishes to work with various stakeholders such as communities, NGOs and logging companies for forest planning and management to ensure the survival and well-being of communities living in upper Baram area,” said Sapuan Ahmad. He also re-affirmed his support to collaborate with NGOs that share a common interest in safeguarding the biodiversity in the state by reiterating the speech by Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, during the launch of Tama Abu Scientific Expedition on Aug 13, “A lot of NGOs have negative image of us because they come to the state government via the back door. We always welcome NGOs if they come through the front door, especially those that have the same interest with us on biodiversity conservation, to work with us and share information,”

Those attending the consultation workshop included State Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad, deputy director of Social Forestry Division Zarina Shebli, Advisor for State Forest Department Dr Paul Chai, Chairman of Keruan Organization Komeok Joe and Chairman of Save Rivers Network Peter Kallang.