KUCHING: Forestry agencies in Sarawak can now operate more efficiently following the introduction of inter-agency standard operating procedures (SOPs) for forest functions.
The state Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation and Harwood Timber Sdn Bhd signed the new SOPs during the Resource Planning and Environment Ministry’s Integrity and Innovation Day yesterday.
They will streamline the functions of the four agencies, avoid overlapping of duties and ensure check-and-balance in operations.
The SOPs will also be used as a reference in the implementation of the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System.
Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the SOPs would strengthen the collaboration between the agencies and enable them to be more efficient.
He said this was part of the state’s commitment towards eradicating illegal logging and ensuring sustainable management of its forests.
“We are focusing specifically on illegal logging because we want to ensure that our forests are managed in a sustainable manner. The forestry sector is one of the mainstays of our socioeconomic development.
“Our commitment is clear. We have introduced a new Forest Ordinance which not only increases the penalties against offenders but strengthens our organisations and enforcement officers in the field,” he said.
Awang Tengah reiterated that the state government was committed to its target of having one million hectares of totally protected areas.
“We have decided that in planted forest schemes, steep areas that cannot be planted will be set aside and declared as totally protected,” he said.
He also emphasised the importance of research on the state’s rich biodiversity resources, pointing out that Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had recently announced that foreign experts were welcome to conduct research here.
“We had some collaboration in the past with foreign researchers but now we want more international institutions to help us step up our research and development efforts,” he said.