money‘Money Logging’, written by Lukas Straumann, investigates what has been called ‘the biggest environmental crime of our times’ — the massive destruction of the Borneo rainforest by Malaysian loggers. Straumann, the executive director of Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds, researched the involvement of Abdul Taib Mahmud in the destruction of the rain forest in Borneo during his 33-year reign as chief minister of Sarawak from 1981 to 2014.

The Bruno Manser Fonds has supported the Penan people who live in the Borneo rainforest for many years in their fight for survival.

Straumann singles out Abdul Taib Mahmud as the kingpin of this Asian timber mafia, while he shows that Taib’s family — with the complicity of global financial institutions — have profited to the tune of 15 billion US dollars. ‘Money Logging’ is a story of a people who have lost their ancient paradise to a wasteland of oil palm plantations, pollution, and corruption—and how they hope to take it back.

The are obvious links to New Zealand. The most obvious is the vast amounts of Palm Kernel Extract (PKE) imported as feed for cattle. It is a by-product of the palm oil industry in South East Asia. Fonterra’s role in rainforest destruction has long been exposed by environmental groups. It’s a scandal that Fonterra is feeding its dairy cows a product that is directly contributing to the destruction of the world’s remaining rainforests and to increased climate change. Between 1999 and 2014, PKE imports grew from 400 tonnes to 2200 million tonnes, a 5,500 fold increase!

On the East Coast, Hikurangi Forest Farms (HFF) has an ‘estate’ of 35,000 hectares of intensively managed Pinus Radiata plantations. The directors of the company are based in Sarawak. The company is fully owned by TreeOne NZ Ltd. which fully owned by TreeOne Malaysia. TreeOne is a subsidiary of Samling Global Limited. Samling is one of the logging conglomerates in Borneo.

The book is beautifully illustrated with photos of Penan road blockades, graphics and images of activist Bruno Manser, who lived in the forest for many years. Highly recommended.