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Meeting European Union mart specs on timber
Published on: Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Meeting European Union mart specs on timber
The meeting to update the Sabah Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) to meet EU market requirements.
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Forestry Department and European Union on Tuesday officially launched a groundbreaking partnership to update the Sabah Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) to meet EU market requirements.

Building on shared values and principles of sustainable development, human rights and environmental protection, the partnership was jointly launched by Dr Audrey-Anne Rochelemagne, First Secretary (Team Leader for Cooperation: Malaysia and Thailand), Delegation of the European Union to Thailand and Datuk Frederick Kugan, Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests.

The partnership demonstrates the forward-looking approach of the Department towards environmental and social sustainability.

It also marked a milestone in Sabah’s efforts to guarantee sustainable and legal timber production, demonstrating Sabah’s commitment to combating deforestation and climate change.

Established in 2009, the Sabah TLAS is a Due Diligence System that was developed in response to EU requirements under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme. 

This initiative is part of a broader Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) strategy adopted in 1997, aimed at ensuring all timber trade between Malaysia and the EU is regulated through rigorous due diligence measures.

Over the past decade, Sabah TLAS has played a pivotal role in enhancing compliance, transparency, and forest governance. Its Compliance Certificate has gained international acceptance in key timber trade markets, including Europe, Australia, the USA, Japan and Korea.

The activity would involve the alignment of the Sabah TLAS with the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

Besides aligning with the EUDR, the Sabah TLAS would also align with the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D) which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour, contributing to the EU and Malaysia’s broader goals of promoting human rights and environmental sustainability. 

By integrating these frameworks into the Sabah TLAS, the Department is proactively advancing environmental and social governance. 

This alignment would not only enhance the credibility and marketability of timber products but also position Sabah as a leader in sustainable forestry management, but enhance competitiveness of the industry and improve prospects for participating in global value chains.

The partnership to update the Sabah TLAS would enable Sabah timber to be harvested in line with EU market requirements. 

The EU, an attractive single market of 27 countries, is the largest trade bloc in the world and accounts for around 15pc of the world’s trade in goods.

It is the fourth largest destination for Malaysian exports. 

The EU is also the second largest source of foreign direct investment for Malaysia, with €25.2 billion in 2022.

The activity will involve a series of consultations and workshops with government agencies of the Implementing Agencies Coordination Committee (IACC), the Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA), the Timber Association of Sabah (TAS), and upstream and downstream timber industries.

Training and support for Sabah stakeholders will ensure they are well-equipped to meet the new requirements.

Frederick expressed confidence in the collaboration with EU experts, saying this partnership is a crucial step towards aligning the Sabah TLAS with EUDR and CS3D standards.

“We are committed to enhancing our environmental governance and ensuring our timber products meet the highest international standards.

“While we are committed to enhancing our environmental governance and ensuring our timber products meet the highest international standards’, the system most importantly must factor in the current state development agenda and plans,” he said. 

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