KUCHING: The state government has entered into a tripartite agreement with Sarawak Timber Association (STA) and eight timber companies to participate in the Pilot Project for Environmental Compliance Audit.
The pilot project, which will be carried out over a period of two years, was also a strategic collaboration with the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB).
It would require the participating firms to conduct a half-yearly internal environmental compliance audit.
The eight STA member companies that inked the memorandum of understanding (MoU) were Daiken Sarawak Sdn Bhd, GP Pusaka Sdn Bhd, Interglobal Empire Sdn Bhd, Jaya Tiasa Holdings Bhd, Ravenscourt Sdn Bhd, Shin Yang Forestry Sdn Bhd, Subur Tiasa Holdings Bhd and Tanjong Manis Holdings Sdn Bhd.
STA honorary secretary Datuk Henry Lau represented the umbrella body.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the audit process was part of the state’s effort to create greater accountability and to carry out self-regulation and assessment on their compliance to terms and approval conditions issued by NREB.
“It is heartening to note that industry players have shown strong commitment towards self-regulation by agreeing to sign the MoU with NREB to implement the pilot project on environmental compliance audit in their operation areas.
“This will help the state achieve its objective to further improve the management of our resources and to achieve a vision of a clean, green and healthy Sarawak,” Abang Johari said in a speech read by Assistant Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh.
Abang Johari said the pilot project would strengthen the area of environmental conservation and protection in Sarawak.
The environmental audit will bring a new dimension to the forestry and timber industry, migrating from the conventional regulatory requirement towards self-regulation.
The state is also expected to implement this audit rules for the development sector by 2019.
Abang Johari said the state also targeted at least seven concession areas to get accreditation under the Sustainable Forest Management Certification Scheme this year.
The compliance with Sarawak environmental rules and regulation are a prerequisite for any company to qualify for the Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Forest Management Certification (Nature Forest), he added.
Sarawak NREB Environmental Quality controller Peter Sawal said the implementation of the environmental compliance audit, as required under the Natural Resources and Environment (Audit) Rules 2008, marks another significant milestone towards environmental stewardship in the state.
Audit reports submitted by the participating companies involved in the pilot project will be vetted by a third-party auditor to verify and provide recommendations.
The internal and external audit reports should also include reporting on the progress of development, status of environmental quality such as water, air and noise among others.