Sarawak reviewing its sustainable forest management policies

Abang Johari (third from left) presenting the Sustainable Forest Management Certificate to one of the FMU representatives.

KUCHING, July 31: Sarawak is taking a relook at its forestry-related policies to not only keep abreast with current local and international forestry issues but also to strengthen its forest management and wood-based industries.

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the policies that were being viewed and newly introduced included Sarawak Forest Policy, Forest Management Certification, Development of Planted or Industrial Forest, Wood Industries Development Plan, raw material for timber industries and forest revenue, especially cess from downstream products.

“These draft policies are in the final stage of deliberation before they are endorsed,” he said when opening the 18th Malaysian Forestry Conference here today.

In line with its policy reforms, the state had made it mandatory for all long-term forest timber licencees to have Forest Management Certification by 2022.

The chief minster pointed out that with growing local and global concerns on environmental issues, forest management certification had become the main requirement for buyers to ensure that timber and timber products come from sustainably managed forests.

“It has also become the key interest for environment and social-based NGOs,” Abang Johari added.

At the conference, he congratulated three Forest Management Units in the state: Anap Muput FMU, for being able to maintain its certification, as well as Ravenscourt FMU and Kapit FMU for their recent certification.

He also expressed his appreciation to Forest Plantation Management Unit of Segan, Lana, Masama, Penyuan and Kejin Long Lama for obtaining Forest Management (Plantation) Certification.

Abang Johari called on the industry players to be committed to attain certification.

When emphasising the importance of technology to improve sustainable forest management, he cited as an example a service portal in Finland. This portal provides the latest information on forest areas in terms of forest stands, stocking, soil types and suggests possible logging methods or other forest management activities in a particular area, as well as providing related income and cost estimates.

He added that technology also offered a more pragmatic approach in conservation of biodiversity such as wildlife tracking and monitoring.

“We strive to stay abreast with the latest technologies in the area of forest planning, monitoring and enforcement. Drones, for example, are widely used for monitoring and reconnaissance works, especially in areas with limited access.

“Geospatial technology is capable of capturing, storing, analysing and displaying geographically referenced information in real time. Since our country is a signatory to many international conventions and multi-lateral environment agreements, data on forest and other land uses need to be reported periodically, and all of these are made possible with the help of technology.”

Abang Johari said on a larger scale, Sarawak had embarked on information sharing through “big data” to enable better coordination within state agencies.

At the event, he launched the Sarawak Logs Tracking and Forest Revenue System (REVLOG) 2.0 mobile application that enables real-time monitoring of forest and mill licensing, harvesting, log tracking movement, revenue and billings, as well as log export.

REVLOG 1.0 debuted in 2013. It was used to capture, record and monitor details of logs felled by licensed operators, volume of logs that have been royalty-assessed and movement of logs. — DayakDaily