Sustainability in managing our forests | WWF Malaysia

Sustainability in managing our forests

Posted on 12 October 2017
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Credible certified timber to address controversies in the state’s timber industry
Kuching: World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) again calls on timber operators in Sarawak to move towards sustainable forest management and obtain internationally recognised certification.

Certification is the way forward to cushion any environmental and social impact to Mother Nature, and Indigenous Peoples who depend on the forests, as well as criticism from international buyers and watchdog organisations, local civil societies and communities.

In a statement today, WWF-Malaysia points out that the organisation recognises the push by the Sarawak Government to get all forest management units within the Heart of Borneo in the state certified. However, this journey towards greater sustainability for timber production is still a long way to go.

This statement is issued in reaction to the recent news highlighting indigenous leaders from Sarawak appealing to Japanese Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe to stop Japan’s use of wood from a company that is allegedly destroying their forests and livelihoods. It was reported that Japan is using tropical timber from a company in Sarawak that has been alleged with illegal logging and human right abuses, to construct the new National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

WWF-Malaysia is aware of the recent developments that are impacting upon the Procurement Policy of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic, largely linked to the destruction of tropical forest, illegal logging and human rights abuse in Sarawak. 

In principle, if the allegations are proven, the pressures from the end market in Japan would be good steps to ensure that all legal processes are respected and that only sustainable products are sourced from reputable companies to be used for the construction. 

If only credibly certified timber is used, this would have addressed the concerns and allay the fears of being embroiled in such controversies.

Hence, it is important for Sarawak to come up with a credible legality verification system. At the same time, trading houses in Japan should carry out due diligence to ensure that they are sourcing from credible sources. 

We would like to stress that sustainability also includes respecting indigenous people’s rights by conducting out free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) before carrying out any logging activity in an area.

FPIC is an engagement process that involves affected natural resources users – the communities – who largely depend on the forest, rivers and other resources. FPIC, if carried out properly and transparently, could prevent untoward controversies in the future.

Should the credibility of any timber products from certain companies in Sarawak remain questionable, they should not be allowed into the market until the concerns have been adequately addressed. 

For transparency, WWF-Malaysia also encourages public disclosures of actions taken by the government and relevant parties to address the concerns that have been raised above.

WWF-Malaysia always looks forward to improving the timber legality system in Sarawak in particular, and in Malaysia in general, to ensure that the timber industry is operating in a sustainable manner. 

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For more information, please contact
Zora Chan
Communications Manager, Sarawak Conservation Programme
Tel: +6082 247420 (Ext. 210)
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