Sarawak: Logging company backs down in face of local resistance

Environmentalist Matek in Malaysia Our partner Matek Geram was key to preserving the forest (© Matek Geram)

Nov 27, 2023

In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, a timber company had started clearing forest along the Ulu Lioh and Ulu Lijan rivers. After our partner Matek Geram mobilized local communities and organized their resistance, the company withdrew and the danger of further destruction has been averted.

“The water in the rivers is clear again and the fish have returned in abundance,” reports Matek. “The local people are very happy.” Matek believes that the company may have feared a lawsuit after the unwanted international exposure of a Rainforest Rescue petition calling for a stop to the deforestation.

96,761 people signed the petition. With the forest on the Ulu Lioh and Ulu Lijan rivers now safe, we are ending this campaign – and moving on to other urgent cases, of which there is no shortage.

Matek receives constant calls for help from forest communities threatened by timber companies, oil palm plantations and mining. His most powerful tool: mapping the traditional land of local villages, many of which belong to the Indigenous Iban people, to help them assert their land rights and keep it out of the reach of the companies.

Since April 2022 when we first launched the petition, Matek has sent more than 550 photos and videos showing him and his team mapping the forest or attending court hearings. Many of the images document ongoing destruction, so the activists on the ground rarely allow themselves a breather.

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