KUCHING: Forest certification is a confirmation of compliance of forest management practices with an agreed set of rules expressed in the form of Principles Criteria, Indicators and Management Specifications.
It gives recognition to forest managers who comply with international standards and best practices of responsible management and give fair treatment to the local people. Forest certification also serves to inform end-users that they are buying the products from sustainably managed forests. Certified timber products can fetch premium price and gain access into markets closed to non-certified timber products.
Forest certification is in line with Sarawak’s commitment towards sustainable forest management. Through this initiative the state aims to project its positive image by combating illegal logging and promote environmental protection and good governance. To the timber industry, forest certification is the way forward to secure bigger market share.
“Preserving as much Mother Nature as possible is essential for future generations because people do not want the state to end up like a desert. Some tropical forests have been in existence for millions of years and I think our Borneo forests are about 30 to 40 million years old,” said Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem when officiating at the opening of the state-level International Forest Day here recently.
Under the forest certification initiative, the six major timber industry players in Sarawak namely KTS Holdings Sdn Bhd, Rimbunan Hijau Forest Corporation Sdn Bhd, Samling Group, Shin Yang Group, Ta Ann Group andWTK Holding Bhd as well as STIDC must get at least one of their forest licence areas certified by July 2017. Once certified, the licence tenure will be reviewed and can be extended up to 60 years as a form of incentive.
Forest Management Plan incorporating the requirements of forest management certification will then be produced by the licensees. This is followed by the signing of the Forest Management Certification Agreement between licensees and the government. The licensees will maintain the forest management certificate throughout the period. Failure to comply with the agreement may result in the termination of their licence.
Forest Department, being the lead agency to drive the forest management certification in Sarawak, is tasked to prepare an action plan and develop guidelines and procedures to implement the forest management certification.
The forest management certification scheme is recognised internationally particularly by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes or Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS). Certification under any other scheme should be approved by the director of forest.
According to Forest Department, many licence holders in Sarawak show keen interest to participate in forest management certification covering an area of 1.6 million hectares in which 1.1 million hectares fall under Heart of Borneo (HoB).
STIDC, being the state government agency responsible to spearhead the advancement of the timber industry in Sarawak, supports the forest management certification and hopes industry players will strive for the success of this initiative in order to gain greater customers’ confidence and acceptance of the state’s timber products and remain at the competitive edge.