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By Jaythaleela K
MIRI, Oct 2: Sarawak government is to improve equipment reliability of the Sarawak Forest Department (SFD) enforcement unit to help combat illegal forest logging activities, says Deputy Chief Minister Sarawak Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
He said illegal logging has to be stopped and SFD must be fully equipped with updated facilities, including vehicles to curb the activity.
“The State government is encouraging the SFD enforcement staff to use technology to help thwart illegal logging and to catch them in the act.
“Illegal logging can create problem to the businesses sourcing legal timber, whereby the government loses valuable revenue and natural resources,” he said when speaking at the SFD’s northern region excellent service award (APC) ceremony held here last night.
Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development cum Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, said the State government has made it mandatory for all long-term forest timber license holders to obtain Forest Management Certification (FMC) by 2022.
This is in line with a policy reform in the State’s forest management, ensuring its forest and (forest) resources are managed in a sustainable manner.
“I hope that SFD enforcement officers will fully utilise facilities provided such as engage with the aerial surveillance in efforts to combat illegal logging in Sarawak…we have air planes for the purpose and we must make use of these facilities to strengthen our enforcement,” he pointed out.
Earlier, SFD director Datu Hamden Mohammad revealed that under the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) initiative, until October 2020, a total 14 Forest Management Unit (FMU) areas obtained the certification, which stood at 1.4 million hectares.
“This reflects our forest management is complying with the international policies involving sustainable forest management,” said Hamden.
On the Forest Landscape Restoration programme launched last year by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, he said SFD is targeting to plant seven million indigenous tree species annually on degraded areas within licensed areas starting next year (2021).
“Meaning to say, within the next five years, we are going to have 35 million trees planted statewide,” he said.
A total 72 SFD staff from the Northern Region were presented with APC during the ceremony while 24 others were given retirement recognition gifts for their services.
Also present were Sarawak Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Deputy Speaker of Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Datuk Gerawat Gala, Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting and State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion .-DayakDaily