Penan people fight back against loggers


Survival International report from Borneo where the Penan people are fighting back against the loggers destroying the forest.

Dozens of Penan tribespeople armed with spears and blowpipes have erected blockades across the roads cut by logging companies. Their demands are simple. Stop logging their land.

borneo-logging-penanThe Penan who live in Sarawak in Borneo have been fighting against the loggers for more than twenty years. Some communities have been successful, but many have seen their forests decimated, their rivers polluted and the animals and plants they rely on for food disappear.


Miriam Ross, Survival International






Penan girl

Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Survival International





Survival International are calling for recognition of the Penan rights and a halt to development on their land without consent. One Penan man told Survival: "This piece of forest in the only place left for us to hunt and find food. But there's only a little bit left. Last night I went hunting and came back with nothing. If we can't save this bit of forest, we will have nothing to eat."

Logging for timber is only the first chapter in the story. When all the valuable timber trees have been cleared the companies begin to clear the land completely for oil palm plantations. Oil palm is a very controversial crop and its production has been soaring in recent years. It is incredibly high-yielding but its market success means more and more rainforest is being cleared around the world, particularly in Asia, to grow it. Palm oil is found in many foods and cosmetics and is increasingly being used in biofuel production.


Logged hillside, Borneo

Miriam Ross, Survival International

Survival's director Stephen Corry said: "The logging and oil palm companies are robbing the Penan not just of their forest but of their food and water. It is essential that the Malaysian government recognises the Penan's rights to their land and stops allowing the companies to take everything in sight."

Find out more about the Penan here.