Friday, 20 February 2009

Environmental Auditing, Management Plan For Logging

February 20, 2009 15:55 PM

Environmental Auditing, Management Plan For Logging

MIRI, Feb 20 (Bernama) -- Timber companies would soon be required to undertake environmental auditing and management plan as prerequisite to carry out activities in Sarawak, state environment assistant minister Dr Abang Abdul Rauf Abang Zen said.

He said the move to enforce the prerequisites would come as additional assurances that all logging companies were committed towards protecting the environment while carrying out activities.

In a press conference at the state natural resources and environment board (NREB) office here today, Dr Abang Abdul Rauf said the NREB would hold a dialogue with Sarawak Timber Association (STA) members in Kuching on March 3 to explain details of the requirement.

He said under the current practice, only the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study was imposed before any logging activity was carried out.

"However, this alone is not sufficient as it has been manipulated by certain timber companies," he added.

Abdul Rauf said that under the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance, only companies licensed to carry out logging in 500 hectares or more were required to undertake the EIA.

He said this left those with smaller logging plots with no commitment to protect the environment.

He said timber companies could benefit from these prerequisites as people around the world were concerned about the environment and bought timber only from those which practised environmental-friendly logging activities.

In addition to the prerequisites, Dr Abang Abdul Rauf also planned to implement an Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) to regulate land usage activities within the Bakun Hydroelectric Project catchment area.

Concerns over commitment towards environmental protection came up recently after recent NREB studies at Bakun in Belaga had confirmed that logging and land clearing activities were the main cause of high level of suspended solids in the Belaga, Balui and Baleh Rivers.

The increased solid presence had suffocated and killed hundreds of fish and other life in tributaries of Batang Rajang, Malaysia's longest river.