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Tuesday November 27, 2012

What a lie, says Tengah

KUCHING: A statement that said Sarawak had the highest deforestation rate in Asia was a lie and not based on fact, the State Assembly was told.

Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said various assessment reports on the status of tropical forests in the world had been carried by Nasa Tropical Deforestation Research through the Nasa Earth Observatory.

He said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) had also carried their studies on the rate of deforestation in the world and that the ITTO report was issued in 2011.

“Based on the reports, Malaysia is not even in the running in the league for the most and fast rate of deforestation. The satellite imagery by FAO, Nasa Tropical Deforestation Research, Sarvison and Wetland International shows that Sarawak has a forest cover of about 84%,” he said in his winding-up speech yesterday.

Tengah said the definition of forest used by FAO was “land spanning more than 0.5ha with trees higher than five metres and a canopy of more than 10% or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agriculture or urban use.”

He said based on the definition, Sarawak’s 10.4 million hectares of forest was only 0.3% of the 4,033 million hectares of the forest in the world or 0.6% of the world’s tropical forest which is 1,664 million hectares.

On another matter, Tengah said the timber industry in Sarawak was experiencing encouraging export growth this year and that the export value had increased by 3% to RM5.54bil between January and September, from RM5.4bil over the same period last year.

He said growth was driven by the demand from the Middle East countries, South Korea, China, the Philippines and India.

He said the main timber products exported from Sarawak during the period were plywood, sawn timber, veneer, fibreboard and log.

Tengah said based on the ITTO report,the total log production from Sarawak’s Permanent Forest estate (PFE) was about eight million cubic metres per year, which is only 6% of the total world’s tropical log production of 136 million cubic metres per year.

“The export from Sarawak is only 2.4% of the overall total of the world’s tropical timber production,” he said.

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