Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 85
I sit here in the quiet still night, listening to the call of the boobook owl and watching over the moonlit forest. Suddenly a loud crack rings through the air. A gun shot. And then another. The shooters are back again. They come to the clearfell nearby to shot and kill wildlife. This is part of the way in which the forestry industry operates in Tasmania. I try to block it out, but it’s hard not to imagine the little pademelons falling prey to the guns. Crack crack crack… I know that tonight, like the other nights when the shooters are out, it will be hard to sleep as the sound of gunfire rings through the valley.
As I take a moment to think of the pademelons that have fallen victim to the forestry industry here, I think too about the Orang-utans of Sarawak, who are also the victims of a ruthless forestry industry driven by the same company who is responsible for Tasmanian forest destruction- Ta Ann.
Ta Ann Holdings are implicated in corruption, large-scale environmental destruction, human rights abuses and deforestation of key Orang-utan habitat. Evidence of their activities in Sarawak have been documented in a report released by the Huon Valley Environment Center this week.
Tonight I was looking at the photos of Orang -Utans in the new report and feeling such a deep sense of sadness for them and for all of the creatures who have lost their lives for the sake of Ta Ann’s greed. I think it is the so very human look in the Orang- Utans eyes. It is so hard to imagine how the loggers can destroy those areas with no regard for the safety of these animals. As I write this lights flash across the sky. Not the aurora which I had hoped I might get to see. But instead the search lights of the shooters. The bright lights scan across the forest. It is silent now except for that BooBook, but any minute now they will find what they are looking for and the shots will start again. It is just so difficult to understand why so much destruction and killing is allowed to continue.
I have been reading report on Ta Ann and my resolve is strengthening, we must continue more than ever to hold this company accountable. The lies they have told about their activities in Tasmania and their false eco-friendly branding are obviously not their only attempts at trying to hide the truth of their practices. In 2009 they proudly announced membership in the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN). The integrity of such membership is severely questionable considering the company is logging key Orang- utan habitat. ‘Most of the forest Ta Ann is in the process of clearing for timber plantations falls within the boundaries of the WWF ‘Heart of Borneo’ project, described by WWF as the ‘one place remaining in South East Asia where tropical forests can still be conserved on a grand scale.’’91
The thing that I found most distressing about Ta Ann’s activities is the total disregard for the rights of Indigenous people. The displacement of Indigenous people in Sarawak has been driven by this company, in order for logging and oil palm plantations. To take away the forest, to pollute the water, to destroy the land is to destroy the lives of the people who depend on the land for survival. The legal rights of the indigenous people through Native Customary Rights (NCR) include rights to the produce of the forest, fishing rights, and land access rights. These are being denied and ignored for the benefit of the forest industry, including Ta Ann.
Although the Indigneous people can try to defend their rights to the land in court, it is difficult because they often don’t know that logging is due to occur until the contractors turn up. ”
Court cases regarding native title are often held up in the courts for up to ten years, while forest-dwellers watch the habitat on which they rely for their livelihoods are destroyed.” If any official complaints are made against Ta Ann, then thugs are brought in to harass villagers.
The area for which Ta Ann has plantation licence directly affects 96 villages.
An indigenous member of the Iban from the village of Rumah Jupiter, the area under Lot 97 disputed in the High Court case, stated “we are told that we have no rights and we were even ordered to stop using and cultivating our lands. If the government has acquired our lands and give it to the company, why are we not informed or notified and compensated accordingly? Our lands and properties are taken from our back and issued to others. This is sheer robbery. “
As I sit here in my tree and look out over the forest that I have come to know and love, I know I find it hard enough to see these forests destroyed, I cannot imagine the trauma of losing your land when it is your life, your culture, your livelihood, your survival. And then I think about the brave action taken by the communities, many of whom have erected blockades to hold off the logging companies. Although the Sarawak Forest Ordinance has made it illegal for the Penan people to even be in their own forest homes, meaning that people seen at the blockades face arrests and jail sentences or large fines.
Ta Ann Tasmania are inextricably linked to these practises of their parent company Ta Ann Holdings. This report gives even more reason why we need to be questioning this companies activities in Tasmania. If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to sign the cyber action.
It’s going to be a long night here, as I try to sleep despite the gun fire.
Talk to you again soon,