Famed for its caves and karst ecosystems, Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysian Borneo’s Sarawak state is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to more than 81 mammal species, 270 varieties of bird and more than 130 reptiles and amphibians. In 2018, a wave of protest erupted when the public learned that the Sarawak government had granted the company Radiant Lagoon two oil palm concessions, amounting to 4,400 hectares (10,900 acres) of secondary rainforest bordering the western edge of the park. The news that trees were being felled in the concession alarmed local and international NGOs who said they feared the proposed plantations would damage Gunung Mulu’s biodiversity and questioned the secretive way in which the concession had originally been granted a decade earlier. Indigenous Penan and Berawan communities in the area also protested as the company began clearing the forest, saying the area was a crucial part of their traditional land, and that they had not been consulted. Objections were also quietly raised by officials from Malaysia’s central government, including then-Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, who said she confronted a top Sarawak official about the plantations. Still, Kok was careful to frame the matter as falling under the purview of the state government, which should act in the interests of the state. Though the company withdrew much of its machinery and has halted clearing since late 2019, the controversy over the concessions exemplifies the tensions that can arise between the environmental policies of Malaysia’s central government and the autonomous…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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