Saturday, August 13

Big 6 firms told to certify their licensed areas

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KUCHING: The state government has instructed the six major timber companies in Sarawak to certify their licensed areas to meet the demand of high value overseas markets.

Presently, there is only one licensed area – Anap Muput Forest Management Unit owned by Shin Yang Group covering 83,535 ha, which has obtained certification through its subsidiary Zee Tee Sdn Bhd. It is the state government’s target that each of the six major timber companies have at least one licensed area certified by July 2017.

Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Len Talif pointed out that ultimately the state government wanted to see all licensed areas certified by international schemes to settle all doubts with regards to legality of Sarawak’s timber.

“Once a licensed area has been certified by an international scheme, there is no more dispute over the timber the area produces. It will solve all the problems for the licensees once and for all.

“After the area is certified, the timber produced from the area would automatically satisfy the requirements of international buyers in terms of legality, sustainability and certification. The timber will have no problem being sold anywhere including high value international markets,” said Len.

Len was responding to questions raised by Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat on the latest development on the timber industry at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

The Kuala Rajang assemblyman pointed out that certification of a licensed area is not an easy process and it took Anap Muput seven years to obtain it.

“Licensees could apply certification through schemes recognised and accepted worldwide such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or any scheme approved by the director of Forestry Department.”

On the Malaysia Timber Council Scheme (MTCS) which Ripin had brought up, Len said MTCS has actually been using PEFC international scheme which is in compliance with nine major areas – law and principles, rights and responsibility, indigenous people’s rights, community relations and workers’ rights, benefits for forests, environmental impact, management plan, monitoring and assessment as well as maintenance of high conservation value forest.

For FSC scheme, he said there is an additional criterion area of ‘plantation’. Presently, the world timber market is emphasising on legal and sustainable timber supply.

“To satisfy the demand of the foreign buyers, the state government has also upgraded Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) to make sure that it is recognised and in compliance with the requirements of importing countries.” Len further said the state government constantly encouraged the setting up of timber-related downstream industries, including premium furniture industry.

“The state government has the five-year plan to propel the growth of downstream industry including quality furniture industry for high end international markets. Some of the steps taken include establishment of technical collaboration with industry to conduct R&D in the use of Acacia wood and other wood species plantations for the production of high-value furniture.”

Other measures also included setting up Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation courses in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak to carry out R&D in furniture design and new products of high value; setting up of a ‘timber trading house’ to ensure sufficient and consistent supply of raw timber; intensifying market incentive programmes including visits and participation in exhibitions internationally; reviewing and developing industry training programmes to support the needs of the downstream industry workers; increasing participation of small and medium entrepreneurs in timber industry; improving infrastructure to accelerate the growth of industrial furniture production and attracting overseas investment to develop downstream industries in Sarawak, he said.