Community representatives are discussing the Baram Peace Park
The idea of a Peace Park was originally initiated in 2009 by 18 Penan villages and was known as the Penan Peace Park. This initiative was a reaction to the constant encroachment of logging companies into the forest. The Penan communities developed the idea of the park as a way to integrate ecological and cultural conservation with economic advancement. The Penan have a long history of resisting logging in their traditional lands, and thanks to their resistance they have managed to protect some last islands of primary forest through blockades and other forms of non-violent direct action. The principle of self-determination is essential for the Peace Park: the initiative was developed to protect indigenous rights -- especially the right to land -- and to further traditional institutions.
Initially, the Sarawak government reacted to the Penan Peace Park with skepticism. Fortunately, Sarawak’s new Chief Minister, Adenan Satem, as well as the Forestry Department, have lately expressed interest in establishing the park. The cancellation of a large hydropower dam on the Baram River, a result of fierce indigenous resistance, has also opened up new opportunities for alternative development in the area. The communities are now developing the scope of the park and coordinating with the government in order to make the park a reality.