Upholding the Rights of Indigenous People Trough Biodiversity Conservation and Taxonomic Studies: Lessons Learned from Orang Asli Issues in Kelantan
The rights of Orang Asli have been the subject of scrutiny of lately in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. All these stem from the land rights and encroachment of ancestral land where Orang Asli resides. Such encroachment may be due to logging (literally for extraction of timber) or forest conversion to plantations or other land use.In Kelantan, the drive to generate more state income through logging concession has caused disagreement between the Orang Asli, the state government and the logging concessionaires. As the livelihood of the Orang Asli is highly dependent on the forest, their survival in this century will rely on how effective conservation efforts in the region, where rapid loss of forest coupled with the pressure of development initiatives is right on their door step. These encroachment cases and lack of protection from current legislation a cause of concern as it threaten their culture. What is needed is effective conservation efforts through legislative action coupled with strong taxonomic data to alleviate the development pressure on forested land where Orang Asli resides.