KUCHING: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia supports the state government’s intent to uphold the integrity and legality of logging operations in Sarawak.
Its chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said getting the state’s timber companies and forestry agencies to sign integrity pledges was a good start.
“Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has been consistent in his message to all stakeholders concerning this issue and it shows his seriousness in improving Sarawak’s reputation which has been tarnished by allegations of illegal logging and corruption.
“We expect the Chief Minister to send the same message to all levels of economic activities in Sarawak that deal with natural resources,” he said in a statement.
Dr Dionysius said WWF Malaysia would like the state government to get agencies entrusted to safeguard natural resources, including rivers, flora, fauna and minerals, to also commit to the integrity pledge.
“These are important components of Sarawak’s rich biodiversity and are important not only economically but also for the ecosystem,” he said.
He also said WWF Malaysia looked forward to collaborating with the state government and other stakeholders, including local communities and timber companies, towards improving the protection of natural resources.
“With our pool of experts in responsible forestry and conservation, we can assist in identifying priority conservation areas to determine which areas should be protected first.
“We can also help to enhance the network of totally protected areas by working with local communities to support the gazettement of such areas,” he said.
In addition, he said WWF Malaysia could guide timber licensees on good forest management to ensure that sustainable logging is done properly in areas already earmarked by the government as totally protected areas upon the expiry of timber concessions, thus not leaving degraded forests when the licences expire.
Dr Dionysius also hoped that Sarawak would go for independent third-party auditing of its legality system to enhance transparency and strengthen its credibility in long-term forest management improvements.
He said this would increase buyers’ confidence that they are purchasing legally-produced timber.
He added that such a move to eradicate illegal logging would make it possible for Sarawak to expedite the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement - Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA-FLEGT) with the European Union, giving access to wider markets and reducing the state’s dependence on Japan and the Far East.