Poor deforestation initiatives by timber men irks chief minister

Abang Johari watesr the ‘Belian’ seedling in the presence of other dignitaries in conjunction with the State-level ‘Malaysia Greening Campaign To Plant 100 million Trees Programme’ held at Bukit Siol, Kuching today.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 23: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today expressed his disappointment with timber concessionaires for not doing enough for reforestation.

He said Sarawak then was not fully committed in its reforestation efforts during the days when the timber industry was the main source of revenue for the State.

“Of course I’m not happy. When I became the Chief Minister, when I looked into the logging industry, there are certain areas (where) they do some replanting but not to our satisfaction.

“You know sometimes because they want to get rich quickly, they chopped off the trees but they didn’t do replanting. Then they were gone. This is what had happened.

“But I’m sorry, this is what I’m going to do. I want to change this policy. We are serious,” Abang Johari told a press conference after performing a tree-planting ceremony in conjunction with the State-level ‘Malaysia Greening Campaign To Plant 100mil Trees Programme’ held at Bukit Siol here today.

He asserted that in order to replenish the forest, the new State government’s new policy would make it mandatory for timber concessionaires to carry out reforestation in their concession areas.

This he said was possible as Sarawak is now no longer depending on the timber industry as it was then.

“As we are no longer depending on timber revenues, we will do replanting of trees for the future. Then it must be systematic, there must be a ‘coop’, whereby after 25 year-cycle, we can harvest it. This should have been done before but hey dint do it,” he said.

The Chief Minister also stressed income of timber has dipped to as low as RM300 mil in the past five years and had been surpassed by royalty from water which stood at RM600 mil annually.

“What I do is to find a new stream of revenuer. At the same time, we invest back in reforestation,” he said. -Dayakdaily