Log export ban empowers the wood-based industry
Published on: Saturday, March 23, 2019
By: Larry Ralon
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Kota Kinabalu: The new State Government’s log export ban, which is partly to cater for demand by local sawmills, has empowered the wood-based industry in Sabah with more flexibility for raw material supply. 

Chief Forest Conservator, Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini (pic), said the emphasis on the production of a broad range of high-end value-added forest products would spur the development of the wood-based industry in the State. 

“This will in turn support the socio-economic development and creation of potential job opportunities for the locals,” he said at the International Conference on Heart of Borneo (HoB): Transcending Boundaries for a New Conservation Era and the International Day of Forests 2019, here, Thursday. 

In the past, he said, timber from the natural forests contributed more than 50 per cent of State revenue every year. 

“Unfortunately, the revenue collected from the forests has since dwindled due to the shortage of timber production from the natural forests. 

“The conventional logging activities in the past, in one way or another, had contributed much to the decline of timber production as such damaging practices had badly impacted the forest ecosystems, the environment and also the sustainability of flora and fauna.

“To ensure the forestry sector remains relevant as one of the main sources of revenue for socio-economic development, the State Government has committed to manage the State’s forest resources in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management, effectively and efficiently, in accordance to the international standards,” he said. 

Mashor said as the custodian of the forests, the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) is confident that the currently practised Sustainable Forest Management (FMU) system is able to protect and conserve the forest resources while ensuring that the livelihood of the people remains a priority. 

“To date, about 60 per cent of Sabah’s land mass is covered with forests, of which 26 per cent is gazetted as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs). 

“We should be proud of that as it has exceeded the target set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which aims to conserve around 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas, plus a further 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas,” he said. 

Relating to the Sabah Forest Policy 2018, Mashor said the State Government has pledged to preserve at least 30 per cent of Sabah’s land area as TPAs by the year 2025. 

Despite this tremendous milestone, the quite recent burning issue raised by the people is whether this achievement is just for the sake of number or the benefit it entails to the people, he added. 

“This is a big challenge to us to ensure that environmental conservation and economic development are not in conflict, but a source for innovation and, most importantly, a source of income to the Government. 

“It shall increase competition, create jobs and lift the economy. I urge all partners, local or international and new or old, to make this happen in Sabah. Perhaps, we shall consider the idea to harmonise the needs to preserve more areas for conservation, while ensuring a better livelihood for the rural community, especially those living around the protected areas,” he said. 

Sabah’s tropical rainforests are among the most diverse in the world, representing a significant natural wealth in terms of remarkable biodiversity and economic value. 

Ever since the implementation of SFM in Sabah in 1997, Mashor said, the SFD has made a remarkable achievement in terms of managing forest resources towards sustainability and good forest governance.   

“Deramakot Forest Reserve, for example, has been recognised as the world’s first tropical rainforest certified under the Gold standard of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) since 1997. 

“The State Government move to expand the model used in Deramakot to the other forest reserves then was timely and rightfully undertaken. 

To date, about 860,519 hectares of the forest reserves have been certified under international and national forest certification standards. 

“About 73 per cent are under FSC, 21 per cent under MTCS-PEFC, nine per cent under the Ramsar Convention, whilst the remaining are under MS: ISO 9001:2015,” he said. 

On the HoB, Mashor said in the second decade of the implementation of the initiative, the conference aims at going beyond its traditional boundaries. 

“This includes realigning the roles of research in support of science-based conservation, consolidating conservation and management of the forests through State-wide jurisdictional approach, empowering community participation, mainstreaming and instituting conservation in other sectors, and further merging these sectors to strengthen conservation finance through payment for ecosystem services.” 

He said three concurrent sessions would be held during the conference to tackle three equally important topics - jurisdictional and landscape management, science-based conservation and community outreach, and institutionalisation of conservation finance and payment for ecosystem services. 

A total of 46 working papers will be presented, he said, adding the papers to be shared, particularly those related to the engagement of the local communities, are a testament of people-centric approach in accordance with thrust five of the Sabah’s Forest Policy 2018 focusing on social wellbeing. 

“The people of Sabah must be given the opportunity to be involved or benefit from the implementation of forest management and conservation activities as always been emphasised by the Chief Minister.

“This also complements the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests, Forests and Education, where we encourage people, through educational and awareness raising, to understand the importance of forests in our everyday lives,” he said.     

Mashor said since the HoB International Conference was first held in 2009, various issues had been discussed and tackled over the years. 

To date, he said, numerous efforts to improve the biodiversity conservation have been undertaken, which include among others the expansion of the TPAs, intensification of forest rehabilitation activities and strengthening the implementation of SFM. 

Under the HoB Initiative, two strategic plans were formulated in 2009 and 2013, respectively, to facilitate the implementation of biodiversity conservation in Sabah towards 2020, he said, adding these plans emphasise on the importance of trans-boundaries management, protected area management, management of natural sustainable resources, eco-tourism development and capacity building.

He said an area of about 3.9 million hectares located in the remote areas in Sabah have been designated under the HoB Initiative, a project initiated by three countries, namely Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia. 

The main objective of the initiative is to protect and conserve a healthy and contiguous network of protected areas covering 22 million hectares of forest landscapes, through the re-establishment of forest corridors for connectivity and the promotion of sustainable land use practices within and surrounding these areas. 

Photo Source: www.forest.sabah.gov.my


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