State to review Forest Rules, Ordinance to curb illegal logging activities

Awang Tengah (centre) chairing the meeting.

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KUCHING, Aug 29: The state government is reviewing the Forest Rules and Forests Ordinance to enhance existing provisions and intensify efforts to curb illegal logging.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, when chairing the State Task Force on Illegal Logging meeting earlier today, said the system would also cover the process of forest licensing, harvesting, transporting, manufacturing and trading of logs and timber products.

He added that that compliance to the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) would be verified by a third party.

“The state government has put in place various policies, laws, regulations and procedures for forestry sector such as Forests Ordinance 2015, Forests Rules and STLVS.

“Compliance certificate provide credibility to log and timber product from the state and would ensure that all logs felled are accounted for, thus helping minimise and mitigate illegal logging activities,” Awang Tengah said at the meeting, according to a media release from his Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources.

The deputy chief minister added that from January to July this year, a total of 805 enforcement operations have been conducted, which included land, river and air operations.

From those operations, 169 investigation papers have been opened with a total of 19,127 cubic meters of logs seized with a value of RM1.2 million based on royalty rate calculation, whereas a total compound of RM283,931 has been collected from various forest related offences.

“Since 2015 to July 2019, 53 suspects have been convicted for various forest offences,” he said.

Awang Tengah pointed out that inter-agency cooperation to combat illegal logging would be essential and paramount, thus, would be strengthened to achieve greater impact in enforcement operation.

This approach, he said, would enable the state to combine different skills, competencies and resources, as well as focussing on a common objective towards combating the menace.

He explained that enforcement operation requires timely and accurate information, and therefore the Forest Department and related agencies would further leverage on advanced technologies such as the usage of hyperspectral system and aerial surveillance in combating illegal logging, which has been proven to be very effective.

“The state government has also put in place various measures to prevent corruption among enforcement agencies for example, developing and implementing Corruption Risk management in the Forest Department,” Awang Tengah said. — DayakDaily