Malaysia: reforesting degraded forests

Jok Jau Evong

Jok Jau has long struggled in fought for the protection of forests and indigenous peoples. Photo: Conor Ashleigh (http://conorashleigh.com/)

Jok Jau Evong is from the Uma Bawang Residents Association, Malaysia and is also from Sahabat Alam Malaysia’s Sarawak Office Coordinator. Jok Jau has been part of the long struggle to protect Sarawak. Originally trained in draughtsmanship, Jok’s fate took a different turn when he decided to lead his village, Uma Bawang in middle Baram, Miri Division, Sarawak in their protest against a logging company in the late 1980s.

Jok Jau talked about his experience of being part of a long term struggle and the establishment of the Uma Bawang Residents’ Association (UBRA).  UBRA was established in March 1990 and is located in Sungai Keluan (River Keluan). UBRA works a lot on reforesting degraded forests. There are 60 members of UBRA and they have so far cultivated 20,000 trees of different local wood species like meranti, kapur and engkabang.

The reforestation project has brought back the wild animals once lost after logging destroyed the place. In 2002, UBRA requested that the State Government
exclude their area from the Long Lama Oil Palm plantation project. This request was granted. Today UBRA’s 900 hectares of land can no longer be disturbed by Government for any project as it has been excluded from the State’s development plan. UBRA is a recipient of the Equator Initiative and the Slow Food Movement awards. Jok said that these successes did not come easy as his community has struggled, particularly through the 1980s and 90s. They have put up blockades, resisted logging companies, faced arrests and jail terms, government oppression, threats, law suits and more. Only now are they seeing the fruits of their struggle.

Today they are transferring their knowledge and experience to other communities by replicating the reforestation project. To date, they have trained three other Penan communities. They continue to impart their knowledge on other new and willing indigenous communities.

–> Visit this page again, we will upload videos of Jok Jau’s work with some of the indigenous peoples communities