KUCHING: The Penans of Baram and Limbang have produced 23 community maps of their ancestral land which they want the state government to recognise.
Ten Penan community leaders and representatives handed over the maps to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas at the State Legislative Assembly last Friday.
Spokesman Komeok Joe said the maps were the result of 15 years of work, covering areas totalling 10,000sq km and containing detailed information of 63 Penan communities, 7,000 rivers, 1,500 trees and other landmarks.
“We began the community mapping work in the 1990s and collected all the data ourselves.
“The maps are very detailed and show the resources in the forest, which is our supermarket.
“They also contain information about our history which we inherited from our ancestors,” he told a press conference at the state PKR office here yesterday.
Komeok said the community maps documented the Penans’ culture, traditional knowledge and relationship with their land.
For instance, details such as sago palms, blowpipe trees, salt licks, graveyards, footpaths and Penan community boundaries are marked on the maps.
“We want the government to take note of the maps and recognise our land.
“We don’t want to protest on the street but to bring this up to the government through the proper channels,” Komeok said.
He also said the Penans wanted the government to recognise the mapped area as the Baram Heritage Forest, formerly proposed as the Penan Peace Park, to protect and conserve it not only for the Penans but other indigenous communities in the area.
“We would like to record our appreciation to Uggah for meeting us and receiving the maps on behalf of the state government,” he added.