Committing to more sustainable forest management practices

By Patricia Hului
@pattbpseeds
 

WHENEVER YOU BUY AN electrical appliance, it is a Malaysian thing to check if there is a SIRIM logo on it.

This logo means that the product is certifiably safe to use and if anything goes wrong, you can always do what consumers have a right to do: lodge a complaint.

Certification means a lot to consumers nowadays. A simple logo means that customers have a rough idea where their products come from and can therefore make more responsible and informed choices.

What about timber, wood products and even books or newspapers? Have you ever thought which forests the products come from before buying them?

Here in Sarawak, our forests have been a subject of debate since anyone can remember.

Land rights issues, land use policy, logging, conversion of peat swamps; these are among the hot topics of debate surrounding Sarawak’s forests.

To add on long list of debatable subject on our forest is sustainability. Will our forests last the next hundred years?

In an effort to get our trees recognised as part of sustainably managed forests, Forestry Department Sarawak reached out to 20 relevant government agencies, 15 timber operators and two NGOs in a Seminar on Forest Management Certification (Natural Forests) in Sarawak at Four Points on Aug 21 to 22.

The seminar was aimed to enhance awareness among all timber operators on forest management certification (Natural Forest), as tools to create a good image and reputation of forest management and to share experience and knowledge on forest management certification.

 

Sudarsono

Sudarsono making the welcoming remarks during the launch of the forest management certification seminar.

 

Datu Sudarsono Osman, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment in his welcome remark stated that forest certification is a major commitment towards maintaining the good image of forest management in Sarawak, since the state government subscribed to the sustainable forest management (SFM) concept.

“In Sarawak, forest certification is private sector driven and a voluntary process,” stated Sudarsono.

The big deal about forest certification is to inform the consumer that they are buying a wood product that comes from a sustainably managed forest.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem announced in his officiating speech that the tenure of the licence will be extended up to 60 years. Before this, timber concessions only allowed timber operators to log in the same area for 5 to 10 years.

 

Sudarsono presenting Adenan with a memento at the conclusion of the event launch.

Sudarsono presenting Adenan with a memento at the conclusion of the event launch.

 

“But one of the conditions that will be imposed is that the licence operators shall incorporate the requirement for certification within three years from the date of approval and failure to comply with the condition shall cause the licence to be terminated,” Adenan stated.

It is hoped that this longer concession period would give timber operators more sense of responsibility over the forests that they log.

He also congratulated Anap Muput Forest Management Unit (AMFMU) by Zedtee Sdn Bhd for being the first timber operator successfully certified under the Malaysian, Criteria and Indicator (Natural Forest) 2002.

AMFMU covers an area of 83,535 hectares in Tatau.

Their management system comprises a second cycle harvest with minimal construction of new logging roads, strong emphasis on training, implementation, monitoring and assessment of Reduced Impact Logging to minimise erosion and environmental impacts and adaptive management by engaging all stakeholders and local community to resolve issues affecting conservation and community development within the regional landscape.

An example of how AMFMU ensures their forests are rightfully treated includes packing their waste oil and lubricants in drums to be transported out of the area for correct and proper disposal.

They also do not employ anything harmful in their forest management such as chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, exotic species, biological control agents or genetically modified organisms.

All timber operators can get their forest certified through Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) Schemes.

It is pricy and a lot of work to get our forests certified, but the effort is for the future sustainability of Sarawak’s forests.

So far, the state has also developed a holistic and comprehensive statement on land use policy where six million hectares of its land mass will be set aside as Permanent Forests Estates for Sustainable Timber Production and one million hectares fully and Totally Protected as Totally Protected Areas in the form of national parks, nature reserves and wildfire sanctuaries.

As of January 2014, the state has gazetted 601,933.70 hectares of its land mass and 207,967.00 of territorial waters as Total Protected Areas.

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