Thursday, 4 December 2008

Informants on illegal logging will be rewarded


Taib: Informants on illegal logging will be rewarded

Kuching: Sarawak will reward informants of illegal logging. Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud wants a fund to be set next year.

"The move will encourage villagers, especially those living in and near forest areas, to report to the authorities of any intrusion into state forests.
"Our timber resources must be protected at all cost," said Taib, who is also Sarawak Forestry Corporation Chairman.

He called on corporation officers to work closely with the Penans and other tribes to be guardians of the forests. "(But) we have to identify who are our friends and our enemies (among them). the corporation should also upgrade its log tracking system to separate the illegally sourced logs from the ones harvested with permission."

Adding that Sarawak was a model in sustainable forest management, Taib said it had to step up the development of planted forests to relieve the pressure of sourcing timber from its permanent forest estates (PFEs).

"My worry is that we are a bit slow to achieve the target of planted forests."
He indicated the State Government was prepared to look for funds to finance planted forest projects, and that it may even take over such development initiated by the federal authorities.

Taib said the state has decided to convert 20pc of its forest areas to planted forests, with the target of developing one million hectares of forest plantations by 2020.

He said with fast growing timber species, the one million hectares planted forests could yield 15 million cubic metres of wood a year.

Sarawak now harvests some 11 million cu m of timber a year, including some 9.2 million cu m from PFEs. More than half of the log production is reserved for the local timber processing mills.

Meanwhile Sarawak's log tracking system will be extended to cover all regions from January.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Dr Yusoff Hanifah said Sibu was the only region implementing the system now.

He said the extension of the tracking system was made possible with the implementation of Forest Net - a wide area network which serves the Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, state Planning and Resource Management Ministry, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), state-owned Harwood Timber, state Treasury and other stakeholders.

Forest Net will connect main timber monitoring and assessment centres, comprising district forest offices and export points, main nature conservation centres (national parks and wildlife sanctuaries) and three research and development sites.

"With due diligence and documentation, each log produced can be traced to its original stump or the forest of origin. "Steps to further enhance verifiability for legality of source include 100pc tree-tagging and computer tracking," he added at the Sarawak Forestry Corporation's fifth anniversary dinner on Friday.

To strengthen enforcement work, Dr Yusoff said an effective system had been installed to ensure the forest agencies were backed by the police and Customs Department.

On the international front, he said Sarawak Forestry and Forest Department was working closely with the Itto (International Tropical Timber Organisation) - Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) collaborative project to conduct an assessment of ramin (a precious timber species).

This project would ensure that export volumes of Ramin are maintained within sustainable levels, he said.