Commercial timber-harvesting in Sarawak started long before the setting up of the Forest Department in 1919.
Minister of Second Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said official records showed shipment of logs to Taiwan started in the 1840s.
“Had our forests not been managed responsibly or sustainably, there would not be any logs for export today,” he told participants of a seminar on ‘Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System’ in Osaka, Japan yesterday.
He dispelled non-governmental organisations (NGOs)’s allegations that excessive logging and illegal harvesting in the state had destroyed the forests.
Sixty-four per cent of the state’s land mass of 12.5 million hectares were still covered with forests, he assured.
“Sarawak has a land use policy designed to achieve sustainable development of its natural resources. To achieve this objective, the government continues to place high priority in protecting the forests, environment and wildlife,” said Awang Tengah.
“This is exemplified by the enactment of legislations like the Forest Ordinance in 2015 to curb illegal logging and to impose deterrent punishments on offenders as well as to intensify enforcement of all laws and regulations governing forestry and the timber industry in Sarawak.”
On the potential use of forest waste in forest concession areas, Awang Tengah said the state realised that with suitable technology, it could be converted to marketable products.
He welcomed any Japanese group with such technology and interests to explore opportunities using forest residuals.
“This initiative is consistent with the government’s aspiration that all forest resources should be fully utilised for the benefit of the state and its people,” he said, adding there was a policy to use mill wastes for wood-based products like wood chips, pellets, particle and fibre boards, and compressed wood for global export.
Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment, also encouraged more interactions between Sarawak timber industry players and Japanese importers to further promote and sustain the existing timber trade long established between Sarawak and Japan.
He said he was pleased the quality of Sarawak timber products had never been compromised and that the Japanese market consistently accepted Sarawak timber products.
“Furthermore, the legality of the source of these timber products has always been recognised by timber importers.”
The two-day seminar in Tokyo and Osaka was attended by more than 200 participants from various levels of Japanese buyers, importers, traders and consumers of Sarawak timber.
This overwhelming response enabled the mission to disseminate information on the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification (STLVS) to all strata of the timber market in Japan, which remains a major market for Sarawak timber and timber products.
Source : The Borneo Post Online