Green Wall - Part one
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The scene takes place on the mountain range of Borneo Malaysia between the Indonesian part of the island, Kalimantan in the upper Baram, isolated… Read More
The scene takes place on the mountain range of Borneo Malaysia between the Indonesian part of the island, Kalimantan in the upper Baram, isolated region of Sarawak. It is 5:30, the day is not up yet but already in the valley resound the blows of bamboo: The tubung Around the small village of Balai, the roosters start singing, some faithful stand up, grab their torches and join the church. The darkness, striped by light beams, begins to die, this is the hour of prayer. The Penan were Christianized in the 20th century by British missionaries and every day, in turn, the population officiate. This morning in November 2012, two women start the reading, in a silent of a new world which awakes, silence broken only by the murmur and singing. Balai is one of 18 villages in May 2012 announced the creation of the Penan Peace Park (PPP), after two years of meetings between communities. A zone covering an area of 1628 km2 that the Penan recognize as customary land, but that the Sarawak government conceded, however, to some logging companies, including the multinational Samling, the most active in the region. Fifty-six percent of PPP is covered by the primary forests, the forty four remaining by secondary forests resulting from deforestation. This is attributed as follow, twenty-seven percent for logging companies, twelve percent for agricultural activity of the Penan and five percent for forest fires. Approximately one thousand eight hundred Penan, a little more than ten percent of the population in Sarawak, live in the PPP. The Penan Peace Park is an ambitious project, considering the imbalance of power relations between some isolated villages with no means of communication and logging companies publicly traded assisted by a Government of Sarawak semi-authoritarian with a strong political and economic autonomy. So "Green Wall" is the story of two walls facing each other: the forest of Sarawak and industrial plantations. It is also the story of the Penan, a traditionnaly nomadic people, sedentary gradually since the 50s, people who nevertheless preserved until today an intimate relationship with the forest. Finally, this is the story of an idea and a hope, the Penan Peace Park, a protected area whose fragile borders are lost in the jungle of Borneo. A land claim that lawyers defend with passion before the courts of Malaysia. Read Less
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                                                             GREEN WALL
 
 
"Green Wall" is the story of two walls facing each other: the forest of Sarawak and industrial plantations. It is also the story of the Penan, a traditionnaly nomadic people,  sedentary gradually since the 50s, people who nevertheless preserved until today an intimate relationship with the forest. Finally, this is the story of an idea and a hope, the Penan Peace Park, a protected area whose fragile borders are lost in the jungle of Borneo. A land claim that lawyers defend with passion before the courts of Malaysia.
 
"(...) I think this country belongs to us forever, and today. My ancestors lived like animals, following in their footsteps, sometimes they lived on the mountain Kulit Buang, and other times they settled in the valleys. "
Penan Selungo of Upper Baram - Interview conducted by the author in November 2012
Kade Balan in secondary forest around Long Kerong during hunting.
"We, the Penan Selungo of Sarawak, are indigenous peoples who have been most affected by
the forced destruction and transformation of our land. Our ancestors were nomadic huntergatherers
and we have only recently started to settle down and learn farming. Even if our
lifestyle has changed a lot over the last decades, we remain faithful to our tradition and we
still want to live in harmony with our forest. We have tried many times to protect our land
rights, but our blowpipes and our culture are non aggressive compare to the bulldozers of the
companies. The destruction of our forest takes place in front of our eyes.
After several decades, the social, economic and ecological impacts of an unconditional
exploitation of natural resources are too obvious to ignore. The disappearance of our food
source, medicinal and other plant and animal species, the pollution of soil and drinking water
resources, soil destabilization through the destruction of natural forests, problems related to
our health and social welfare are just some examples."

Penan Peace Park Project
"We claim our Native Customary Rights (NCR) in this area, as our ancestors have been living
there for centuries and following our tradition. At the same time, the logging companies assert
that the whole area forms part of the governmental “forest reserves from permanent forest
estates” and can therefore be used by the concession-holders."

Penan Peace Park Project
"The tropical deforestation in Sarawak has increased at an alarming rate since the 1980s and
1990s and the gradual but hastened establishment of palm-oil plantations has caused many
disputes. The disputes primarily center on the non-recognition of Native Customary Rights
(NCR) lands and where there had been selective and reduced recognition of NCR lands, the
marginalization of these “landowners” take on another concept. While many of the remaining
forest communities struggle to use their remaining natural resources in a sustainable way and
are tryingto protect the forest with its high biodiversity, the private logging and plantation
companies have exploited the forests and the peoplefor short-term gain that does not benefit
the NCR landowners."

Penan Peace Park Project
Village of Balai in the Upper Baram, one morning in November 2012.
"We are aware that we are new farmers and that our management methods can certainly be enhanced
in order to maximize our yield and reduce our impact on the environment. We want to
develop sustainable agriculture methods that help us to nurture the environment and work
together such as community-based agro-forestry."

Penan Peace Park Project
"Firstly we want to secure the Penan language and secondly we want to
revitalize and transmit it to our younger generations"

Penan Peace Park Project
Sapong Unai belongs to the generation born in the jungle and progressively sedentary during the second half of the 20th century.
"Sadly as logging and plantation have encroached on our land, our streams and rivers have
become muddy and polluted. They are muddy because of the erosion of our soils and polluted
because of the fertilizer and other poisonous substances such as oil, which contaminate it.
This muddy and polluted water is making us sick when we drink it, the fish are rapidly
depleting and we cannot bathe or wash our clothes in it anymore."

Penan Peace Park Project
Transport of logs on the road to Upper Baram, Malaysia dominated exports in 2010 according to the International Tropical Timber Organization.
Sinang Kade, one of the women in the village of Balai.
Houdaou Turai and Sinang Kade, one of the oldest couples of Balai, in the twilight of their house.
The Penan consume very unevenly meat. Meals consisting primarily of rice and some vegetables from family farms or gathered in the forest.
At the end of the church, while some speak in low voices, the village wakes up gently, it is 6am.
First hours of the day. While the morning rises, the wind blows gently. We pray together.
They call this forest Tana Lalun Penan and consider it to be theirs. The Sarawak government denying them this right has already been granted to the logging company Samling.
Long lines wind through the forest to the village of of Balai, to provide clean water to the inhabitants of the neighboring torrents. Realized a few years ago by the government, the Penan are repairing themselves now multiple damage to the network with a shoestring. Here bamboo.
"The diversity of our oral history represents much more than just the richness of our culture.
All myths, legends, stories, chants and even our belief system contain information about the
history our elders. Considering the fast erosion of this knowledge we need to urgently take
action in order to secure it."

Penan Peace Park Project
The Penan little use of modern materials for everyday objects. Ancestral traditions, including basketry, can still manufacture them.
Little girls playing on the banks of Selungo in the village of Long Sait.
During the wet season, torrential rains in a huge uproar, mingle earth and heaven.
The Penan have little formal education, access to care is very inadequate and families living in poverty. The spirit of sharing resources and non-redeemable compensate the deficiencies of a fragile economy.
Garrison Wing, Balai Penan in the heart of the rainforest Penan Peace Park on the slopes of the mountain Kulit Buang
The Penan, great hunters still use the blowpipe, including killing birds. Darts, coated with a poison causes death by cardiac arrhythmias.
Living mainly on hunting, fishing and gathering, the destruction of their forest deprive them of their traditional means of livelihood. A number of indigenous communities in Sarawak accept logging for immediate benefits in terms of employment and infrastructure. The upper Baram Penan majority, meanwhile resisting for many years.
The Penan are part of this range grouped under the term ethnic Dayak and all indigenous communities represent 45% of the population of Sarawak, with 12 to 16,000 individuals Penan accounting for less than 1%.
Juman Guioung, one of the most influential voices of Long Kerong.
The Penan use two types of guns. The first called "britain", the second, manufacturing Penan are prohibited by Malaysian law. The majority of the Penan have no permit. That is why they generally refuse to be photographed with and risking a fine.
Wind before the storm - Village of Long Kepang

                     
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