KUCHING: The state government will back Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) with funding in forest research to maximise the timber industry’s growth while ensuring sustainability.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said SFC would receive financial support to adopt technology in their forest conservation and protection efforts, especially in mitigating illegal logging.
He urged SFC and other forest agencies to focus on research and development (R&D) to support the establishment of a strong and robust industrial forest plantation sector, where all raw material needs of the processing industry can be met.
“I will give you funds to carry out research. Find new ways and scientific methods of not only planting trees but adding value to downstream industries such as research on furniture.
“In order to be sustainable, we need to find new ways to manage our forests as well as monitor illegal logging.
“We must be committed to protect our environment,” he said at the SFC 14th anniversary dinner here.
On the state’s long-term policy on environment, Abang Johari said combating illegal logging remained a challenge.
“The state is committed to enlarge its protected forest areas, nature reserves and wildlife parks,” he said, lauding SFC’s use of drones in enforcement, boundary patrolling, wildlife survey and monitoring of harvesting operations.
Timber industry players are required to strengthen their industrial forest planting activities to provide sustainable feedstock and at the same time, carry out more research to spur growth of planted forests.
Abang Johari mentioned Scandinavian countries like Finland, despite slow growth of trees for timber, was able to turn its furniture industry as among the top in the world. He also cited Johor, which has a higher timber product revenue than Sarawak despite a smaller land mass and less timber resources.
“We produce lots of logs but we don’t add value to our resources. That is why it is important to fund our R&D.
“We must expedite the development of our industrial forests so we can use our natural forests for other purposes instead of logging, such as ecotourism and the provision of ecosystem services,” he said.
Abang Johari announced that he would be introducing a new bill in the upcoming state assembly on the establishment of a research council that would coordinate all R&D activities in the state.
“This is to streamline all R&D efforts to help facilitate the commercialisation of R&D outputs,” he said.
The dinner saw SFC ink an agreement with Spectral Imaging System (SIS) Sdn Bhd, which delivers high-speed geospatial data acquisition and analytic solutions to support strategic management decisions.
SIS is able to deliver fast intelligence based data acquired using remote sensing platforms.
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