We will maintain our own forest policy, says Awang Tengah

Awang Tengah presenting a certificate to one of the 59 newly appointed Honorary Wild Life Rangers. At left is Samalaju Assemblyman Majang Renggie.

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BINTULU, Sept 27: Sarawak government will not accept the integration of the forest policy nationwide that has been proposed by Putrajaya.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said forest matter is under the jurisdiction of the state, which has the right to formulate and regulate its own laws and policies.

“Sarawak has its own forest policy and so do Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. The idea of an integrated nationwide forest policy as proposed by the Federal government cannot be accepted (in Sarawak).

“It is very clear that land and forest matters are under the jurisdiction of the state,” Awang Tengah said at the presentation of certificates to 59 individuals as Honorary Wild Life Rangers (HWLR) here, today.

The 59 newly appointed Honorary Wild Life Rangers taking their oaths at the ceremony organised by SFC.

He reiterated that out of the 12.4 million hectares (ha) of land in Sarawak, the state government is committed to turn 6 million ha for Permanent Forest Reserves and an additional 1 million ha to be classified as Totally Protected Area (TPA) including national parks, wildlife protection and reserves naturally.

A total of 65 TPAs have been gazetted in Sarawak, he said.

Awang Tengah, who is also the Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, pointed out that Sarawak has one of the world’s most abundant source of biodiversity.

“The biodiversity and natural resources that have existed alongside us from generations to generations have benefited the people and the community.

“Everyday, the demand of resources is increasing as the population and rapid development has increased. If not managed in a sustainable manner, these resources will be exhausted or depleted, thus causing harm and disappointment to future generations,” he explained.

He said the state government has enacted laws to manage and protect its natural resources such as forest and wildlife. These legislation includes the Forest Ordinance, 2015, Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 and the National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance, 1998.

Over time, both of these ordinances have been revised and strengthened, he added.

Awang Tengah asserted that the state government was committed to ensure that its forest resources would be managed properly for the benefit of the present and future generations.

“This valuable resources will provide the state and its people in terms of economy, social and ecosystem services. In this regard, the state government formulated new forestry policies by initiating the new and emerging global trends associated with the logging and timber sector.”

Awang Tengah lauded the the honorary wildlife rangers initiative, taken by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) to ensure continued sustainability and conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity in Sarawak.

“I have been informed that one of the main purposes of the HWLR is to engage the local community in a bid to address current issues related to wildlife and its conservation efforts from extinction.

“The HWLR programme, I believe, aim to address issues of wildlife in the grassroots level, while at the same time fostering greater understanding and appreciation among the local community in Sarawak.”

Awang Tengah cited the recent rescue of a sun bear kept at a residential premise in Kuching and a Brahminy Kite eagle, following public assistance and tip-off to SFC, as examples of cooperation that should be encouraged between the public and the enforcement agencies such as SFC, Sarawak Forest Department, Marine Police and others.

He said public assistance with such agencies has also significantly slowed down illegal logging activities.

“Therefore, I urge all involved to continue working together as a stronghold of defence in ensuring that our forests and wildlife are maintained,” he added. — DayakDaily