KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Thirty-six Dayak communities in Ulu Baram and Ulu Limbang have filed an official complaint last week over lack of transparency certification of two logging concessions with the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC).

In a joint statement today, the communities stressed that the certification was granted without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and not having full access to the key documents about logging operations on their lands.

It was stated that the subsidiaries of one of Sarawak’s biggest timber groups, Samling, had operated two logging concessions namely Gerenai and Ravenscourt forest management units.

“In the complaint, the communities highlight many discrepancies between the certification scheme and its implementation.

“They also note a lack of transparency, failure to properly consult the communities, disregard of community dependence on forest resources, disregard of community initiatives for forest conservation, and flaws in MTTC’s complaint mechanism itself,” it said in a statement today.

The statement mentioned that key documents such as Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Social Impact Assessments (SIA) have not been made available to the public or local communities has been highlighted in the complaint notes.

“Certification without full access to information is simply unacceptable.

“How can communities make informed decisions when they are not given the basic facts about planned logging operations on their lands?” said Jettie Word, director of an active international coalition calling for an end to the greenwashing of tropical timber from Sarawak, The Borneo Project.

It was stated that Samling had disrespected the lifestyle of the indigenous community after claiming that “fishing is not an important activity” for the affected communities and that the forest “is not fundamental to meeting the basic need of the local communities” in one of its documents.

“How can Samling pretend that the forest is not important to us Penan?

“They know better and should be ashamed of such blatant distortions of the facts. Fishing and hunting are our main protein sources without which we cannot survive. The forest is not only key to our food supply but the main cultural and economic backbone to our livelihoods,” said Penan leader Komeok Joe, chief executive of KERUAN, a Penan support group.

However, both MTCC and Samling have released a statement saying that they are closely following the guidelines of FPIC while the complaint suggested that those institutions have a lack of understanding of what it actually means.

“The communities call for the full release of all relevant documents on Samling’s timber operations in their forests, for proper consultation procedures, and for the recognition of the importance of forests for their livelihoods, health and wellbeing,” it added.