Abang Johari: Malaysia would not have met obligation on forest cover without Sarawak, Sabah

Abang Johari speaking at the Singapore Business Delegation Networking Dinner. Photo credit: JaPEN Sarawak

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, July 13: Without Sarawak’s 60 per cent forest cover and that of Sabah, Malaysia would not be able to meet its international obligation on forest protection by reducing and reversing forest loss as well as its climate commitments.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that Sarawak is very fortunate to still have 60 per cent of its land covered with forests which will become areas of critical importance for carbon storage and biodiversity as Sarawak is in the midst of laying the foundation to venture into the carbon market.

With forest protection efforts beginning in 2014 during the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s time, Abang Johari said that such efforts have not stopped with Sarawak’s policy giving focus on planting more trees.

“(Using the method) called seed ball where drones are deployed to dump seeds onto the ground and let them grow naturally. (According to study) The survival rate is about 40 per cent.

“As more trees grow, we have the carbon (sinks as trees have ability to store or lock away carbon),” he shared when officiating at the Singapore Business Delegation Networking Dinner at a hotel here last night (July 12).

Welcoming Singaporean investors and companies to come on board and collaborate on this new venture, Abang Johari pointed out that the Sarawak government is currently looking into its implementation according to international standards following the amendment to the Sarawak Forestry Ordinance in June.

“Now we are looking at the fees. I (have) sent my people to Lisbon last week to study on (the carbon market) operation and protocols involved because this is something new.

“But Sarawak (with its abundance of natural resources and policies that emphasised on environmental sustainability) has that advantage,” he added.

The State government is serious in implementing its environmental sustainability agenda which has been reiterated under the Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 through a wide range of initiatives in multiple sectors in order to transition Sarawak into the green and digital economy.

It has set a target to plant 35 million trees or 35 per cent of the 100 million trees to be planted in Malaysia from 2021-2025 as well as shifting to renewable energy sources in its power generation mix with hydropower, solar and now hydrogen, among others.

Meanwhile, according to new data from the University of Maryland, Global Forest Watch reported on April 28, 2022 that there was a significant decline in primary forest loss in recent years, notably in Indonesia and Malaysia.

While it acknowledged that decline reflected that corporate commitments and government actions are working, the organisation cautioned that Indonesia and Malaysia will need to maintain momentum on protecting forests amid soaring oil palm prices.

It said that the new research showed deforestation linked to oil palm was at 20-year low with No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments now covering 83 per cent of palm oil refining capacity in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Sarawak (Statos) chief executive officer (CEO) Chew Chang Guan, Sarawak Business Federation president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg and Singapore Business Federation Southeast Asia and Pacific director Tan Sock Joo were among those present at the dinner. — DayakDaily