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27 April 2015, Kuching: World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) welcomes the revision of the Forest Ordinance and the passing of the Forest Bill 2015, as the law has some positive changes that augur well in better protecting, conserving and managing Sarawak’s rich natural resources.
The organization is glad that the Bill has incorporated some elements that take into account the changing environment and needs, and if fully implemented, can help towards achieving sustainable forest management (SFM), and eventually certification. This will address environmental concerns in the state, particularly unsustainable and illegal logging.
At the same time, WWF-Malaysia notes that some interpretations could be further improved particularly on forest reserve and protected forest; and payment for ecosystem services (PES) for better clarity and future reference.
“Through PES, there is a focus to consistently maintain an ecosystem service while in return the beneficiaries of ecosystems services pay to the providers of such services. It is commendable that the Bill gives recognition that our ecosystems do provide valuable services, but the mechanism has to be properly and adequately understood.
“This can be addressed by carrying out an evaluation of our forests and its ecosystem services. The Bill lacks any mention of this,” said WWF-Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.
“Nonetheless, the Bill shows that Sarawak is diligently seeking to address issues of sustainability of the state’s timber resources,” he said.
He hoped that the law, which now impose heftier fines and jail terms, and along with the use of latest technology, strong ground enforcement and collaboration from other government agencies, NGOs and the public, will further stem illegal logging in Sarawak and other issues concerning the state’s biodiversity, natural resources and heritage.
The heavier penalities, he pointed out, are in line with the Chief Minister’s action on curbing illegal logging and WWF-Malaysia supports these because enforcement had been very actively carried out in the recent months.
“In the new Bill, the inclusion for the need to register workmen in the timber industry is a positive move to ensure all workers from contractors and sub-contractors levels are legally hired and only they can fell trees. This is one of the requirements for SFM certification,” he said.
Dr Dionysius said this in response to the Forest Bill 2015 which was passed in the State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
“We also recommend that Sarawak go for an independent third party auditing system which will further enhance transparency and strengthen the state’s credibility in long term forest management improvements towards sustaining its natural resources.
“Having a third party auditing system will increase the confidence of the buyers in the global timber market that they are purchasing legally produced timber, knowing that the licensee and the supplier are being audited and monitored,” he said.
Dr Dionysius said WWF-Malaysia is ready to provide further support to Sarawak government and other stakeholders in their drive towards better protection and conservation of the state’s natural resources and heritage.
“WWF-MY is also willing to participate in any amendment process should there be any multi stakeholder consultation in the future,” he said.
“Our office in Sarawak has a few programmes – Responsible Forestry, Protected Areas, Conservation Spatial Planning, Species Conservation, Sustainable Hydropower Development and Sustainable Palm Oil, Community Engagement & Education and Policy & Advocacy – which aimed at safeguarding the state’s biodiversity.
In fact, there have been a few collaborative activities between WWF-Malaysia and the government agencies to date, and we will continue to engage with Sarawak government in driving conservation agenda in the state.”
“We hope that through this Bill, our forest resources can be sustainably managed, resulting in better protection of our watersheds, ecosystems services and community used areas,” he said.
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For further information:
Zora Chan, Senior Communications Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +60 82 247 420 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rumaizah Mohammad Abu Bakar, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603 7450 3773 Email: RBakar@wwf.org.my