Sarawak: All timber concessions must be certified by 2022

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Bin Ali Hasan. Image credit: Turnstone Singapore

Sarawak is making it mandatory for all timber concessions to obtain forest management certification by 2022, Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Bin Ali Hasan said.

The new law will be rolled out with a phased approach and calls for industry stakeholders to commit to sustainable forestry management. Previously the requirement was only implemented on a select few, he said, making the announcement at the second Global Timber Conference in November.

He said, “We are also set to reduce our reliance on the natural forests for raw materials to feed our timber mills. Towards this end, we are investing in R&D for a viable and robust industrial forest estate in the state.

“My Ministry is setting clear directions and committed to the strengthening of our enforcement to combat and eliminate illegal logging activities.”

The State Government has also strengthened the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) by providing a formal standard to include independent third party verification to ensure compliance of the legality requirements in accordance the laws and regulations of Sarawak.

Datuk Amar, who is also Sarawak’s second minister of urban development and natural resources, added that 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 national timber certification scheme, Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) is one of the 37 certified endorsed schemes under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Scheme (PEFC). MTCS is an internationally recognised scheme and is the first in Asia Pacific to have accorded international recognition through its initial five-year endorsement by the PEFC Council in 2009. It has also been re-endorsed in July 2014 for another five-year period.

To date, more than 4.66 million hectares or about one-third of the total permanent reserved forest in the country has been certified under the MTCS. This is equivalent to 9.6 per cent of 44 million hectares of the total certified tropical forest in the world.

The MTCS was also recently accepted by the Dutch Public Procurement Policy, opening up greater opportunities for ‘Made in Malaysia’ timber and timber products to enter the European Union market.

Malaysia’s timber and timber products exports was valued at RM22.1 billion in 2016. This accounted for 17.9 per cent of the total export earnings by the commodities sector and almost three per cent of total export earnings.

Exports from Sarawak accounted for approximately 27 per cent of Malaysia’s total timber export, reaching RM5.9 billion in 2016. Timber products is a key industry for the economy, providing 150,000 direct and indirect jobs.