KUCHING, April 15: The Forestry Department has clarified that logs felled on private land for development projects are not illegal as long as the logs are kept within the land.
The department, in a statement today, said the issuance of permits by means of felled log mechanism for royalty assessment for such clearing activity has been suspended since early this year.
It said the government was still in the midst of drafting a new mechanism involving various other agencies to process applications for permits for logging and royalty assessment within private land activities.
A committee would be set up under the purview of the Ministry of Rural Development and Environment to look into the drafting of the mechanism.
The department was responding to a news report on April 11, where 1,003 logs and two heavy machinery worth RM1.1 million were confiscated by enforcers at Kampung Pati Kenyalang near Jalan Ensengei in Serian.
The department clarified that the logs were not felled by illegal loggers but by a contractor appointed to clear the private land owned by a plantation company under provisional lease.
The company had submitted an application for the clearing activity on Jan 7, 2019, to the Forestry Department for royalty assessment.
To avoid misinforming the media and the public, the department urged enforcement agencies involved to refer and verify first with them (department) before making any statements on their operations.
Implications and misinformation from unverified statements could be used by certain bodies or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to make baseless accusations that deforestation is rampant in the state and the logs were being felled indiscriminately.
This, the department added, could give a negative perception and image to the forestry sector in the state.
The Forestry Department also stated that the State Illegal Logging Task Force, chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, had decided that all anti-illegal logging operations in the state were to be headed by the Forestry Department.
Hence, all other agencies, be them state or federal, must abide by the decision.
Meanwhile, the Forestry Department welcomed Lt Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw as chief of the Illegal Logging Task Force and would give its full cooperation to him to ensure the success of all anti-logging operations in the state. — DayakDaily