Dr Anastasia Sai, the great literary mentor of Divine Word Uni
Songs of life

Collingwood tribes fight to defend their land from destruction


THE tribes of Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea, are calling on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to take action to support us in defending our land from destruction by the palm oil giant KLK (Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd).

Our villages are spread across a pristine stretch of isolated coastline backed by vast mountains and valleys and covered by some of the most lush and bio-diverse rainforest on earth.

Our people practice a subsistence-based lifestyle, living close to the land on which we hunt and gather within our rich customary territory. We mean to maintain this existence and keep control our own destiny at all costs.

Twice now we have travelled from our home to Malaysia to join our allies at Rainforest Action Network for the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

This year we went again following a formal complaint we filed 18 months ago with RSPO to protest attempts to develop our land against our will. This complaint has yet to be resolved.

Last year, when we were frustrated that RSPO had failed to respond to our official complaint, over 10,000 Rainforest Action Network supporters sent messages to KLK and the RSPO and the pressure worked to secure us a meeting.

This moved our protest forward. But now we are stalled again. We need to pressure the RSPO to take steps to resolve our case for good.

The land KLK intends to develop is roughly 85% primary forest. Our people have repeatedly and unequivocally declared our opposition to any foreign palm oil development on our land.

In fact, with the strength of the national laws of Papua New Guinea behind us, we have stated in the strongest of possible terms that neither KLK nor its agents have permission to enter Collingwood Bay without our express consent.

For these reasons, there is no way the parcel KLK claims rights to can be developed while obeying the standards of RSPO. Yet KLK continues to keep land-clearing machinery on site in Collingwood Bay and has expressed no intention of leaving our land.

This continued presence is causing anxiety and uncertainty among our people. We could not be more clear: we want KLK to leave Collingwood Bay and we want them to do it now.

If this case does not provide an easy opportunity for the RSPO to show that its complaints resolution process is a valid tool for achieving solutions, then its legitimacy truly is in question.

Our question to the RSPO is: what’s next? What steps is the RSPO taking to bring this outstanding case to a close?

Adelbert Gangai and George Baure of Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea, are two of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK's attempted land grab of their community's forests


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Doug Robbins

The story on rampant logging in Borneo "The Peaceful People: The Penan and their Fight for the Forest" by Paul Malone (July 2014) could well be rewritten for the people of Collingwood Bay and adjoining Musa and Managalas.

I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that.

One day on the beach at Collingwood Bay with my Papuan friends, a stranger came along and said to us “Good morning. You have a beautiful place here”.

My immediate thought was, “It was until you came” but was too polite, merely turning my eyes in the direction from which he came and the pile of logs and barge loading at the other end of the beach at this remote and truly beautiful place.

Lindsay F Bond

What worth was wrought at court to protect folk who thought and fought an issue in tort yet remain distraught with their plight still sorely fraught?

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