KUCHING: Timber licensees in Sarawak have been told to speed up their certification process to ensure that they achieve the target of being certified for sustainable forest management by 2017.
State Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad said the target was set by the government last year as part of efforts to improve the forest industry.
He said all licensees, including the state’s big six timber companies, were required to obtain certification for their forest management units (FMUs).
“In fact, all the big six companies have written to me that they want to be certified. We want all FMUs not only to concentrate on sustainable forestry but to provide a healthy environment for the forest.
“We want all FMUs to carry out logging practices in a sustainable and responsible manner. We do not want timber or timber products that are acquired in an irresponsible manner to enter the local and international market.
“The only way to prove that we are practising good logging practices is through certification,” he said when opening a workshop on market requirements for timber and timber products here yesterday.
The two-day workshop was organised by the department, Nature, Ecology and People Consult (NEPCon) Malaysia and WWF Malaysia.
Sapuan said the licensees could choose to be certified under the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) or international certification bodies such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
He said certification was important because international markets such as the United States, the European Union, Australia and Japan imposed measures to control the entry of timber.
In Japan, for instance, the market had been placed under stringent control to only buy timber from legal sources or suppliers, he said.
As Sarawak was Japan’s major trading partner for timber products, Sapuan called on the state’s timber companies to buck up their operations so as not to miss out on business opportunities.
“The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will provide immense opportunities as we shall see a lot of construction going ahead.
“But bear in mind it will be used as a control gate to filter out irresponsible and unsustainable timber or timber products from entering their market,” he said.
Sapuan also urged timber companies to take the initiative to weed out illegal logging, adhere to good operating standards and aim for forest management certification.
He said the Forest Department would work closely with other government and non-government agencies to sustainably manage and develop the state’s forest resources.
On illegal logging, Sapuan said the department had conducted 240 raids so far this year.
He said 122 investigation papers had been prepared and submitted to the state Attorney-General for prosecution.