Sarawak's government has announced that it will be mandatory for all timber companies to obtain sustainable forest management (SFM) certification by 2022.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said that the requirement had only been implemented on a select few previously. He added that the state government has received many applications from timber operators to have their concession areas certified before the deadline, but asserted that the conditions are now stricter and must be fully met before certification will be issued, The Malayamail Online reported.
“We recognise the importance of SFM to address the issues of forest degradation and deforestation which have plagued some countries undergoing rapid development.
“We are also very much aware of the need to channel, through SFM, direct benefits to the people as well as to safeguard the environmental well-being of our forest areas,” Ali Hasan added.
Awang Tengah, Sarawak’s second minister of urban development and natural resources, said the state government has also strengthened the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS), by developing a formal standard to include independent third party verification to ensure compliance of the legality requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of Sarawak.
He added the full implementation of STLVS will effectively address issues raised by environmental groups, especially from the European Union, pertaining to the legality of timber and timber products sourced from the state, The Malayamail Online reported.
Awang Tengah also said that Sarawak has always been open to external scrutiny of its forest management policies and practices and added that the exports of timber and timber products from Sarawak stood at RM5.9 billion in 2016 and provided direct and indirect employment to about 150,000 people.
The Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources is currently working on setting new directions to strengthening the enforcement to combat and eliminate logging activities.