KUALA LUMPUR: The merbau tree (Malacca teak) is now the national tree, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol of national pride, ” he said when officiating at the “Hutan Kita: Journey Through Our Rainforest” exhibition on Malaysian rainforests at the KL Tower here on Friday (Aug 23).
The event was also attended by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar and other ministers, as well as diplomats.
The Prime Minister further reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
“We will maintain at least 50% of our land area under forest cover, in accordance with our commitment made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
“When translated, ‘Hutan Kita’ means ‘Our Forests’, a powerful affirmation that the forest belongs to us.
“We could take the irresponsible contention that since it belongs to us, we can very well do what we like with it – on the other hand, I would like to believe that our interpretation of the tagline is positive in which, since the forest is ours, it is our responsibility to protect and conserve its longevity, sustainability and beauty.
“Further to that, it is also a declaration that it is something shared, meaning that protecting and conserving the forest is not only for ourselves and the present generation, but for that of future generations, ” he said.
Dr Mahathir also said that it is important that sustainable forest management be practised to ensure that development is not hindered in efforts to protect forests.
“The government will outline eight key actions that will be implemented to enhance Malaysia's efforts in sustainable forest management and mainstreaming biodiversity in Malaysia's socio-economic development agenda in the era of post-2020.
“On the global front, as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, Malaysia takes its commitment to conservation seriously and is proud to be a signatory to an extensive list of global treaties on conservation, wildlife, forestry and the environment, ” he added.
The exhibition “Hutan Kita: Journey Through Our Rainforest”, organised by the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry, will be held until Sept 22.