‘Embrace change to avoid being left behind’ , timber industry urged

Taib (fourth left) presents a mock cheque to Federation of Chinese Associations Sarawak president Hii Teck Yun (sixth left). Also seen are (from second left) Lau and Awang Tengah.

Taib (fourth left) presents a mock cheque to DBNA, represented by its treasurer general Asem Linkin (third right). Also seen are (from second left) Lau and Awang Tengah.

KUCHING: Timber industry players in Sarawak must embrace change by adopting new ways of doing things and the latest technology to avoid being left behind.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state government has made some enhancements to the policy related to the forest to ensure the sustainability of forest resources and the timber industry in the state.

In view of that, he urged industry players to take up the challenge by the state government to adopt technology in running their operation to help expedite the digital economy embarked by the state government.

Awang Tengah, who is Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, noted that as one of the pillar industries of the state, the timber industry has not only contributed greatly to the local economy for decades, but has provided significant contributions to the social aspect of Sarawak through the creation of nearly 100,000 job opportunities for the people.

The timber industry, he pointed out, had generated between RM500 million and RM700 million annually in the form of revenue from royalty, cess and premium.

“It is hoped that the forestry and timber industry players will continue to uphold their belief of giving back to society and play their roles in joining with the state government to help improve the quality of life of the people of the state and make the state a better place for her people.

“We hope that timber industry players will continue to work with the government not only in physical development of the state, but also in implementing policies to strengthen forest management, environmental protection and the development of timber-based industries to a higher level to stay competitive in the global arena,” he said at the presentation of Sarawak Timber Association’s (STA) financial contributions to social and welfare organisations here yesterday.

Awang Tengah pointed out that to strengthen forest management in Sarawak, the state government requires full commitment from the industry to obtain forest management certification for their concession areas, as certifications are evidence that timber areas have been managed sustainably.

He believed that this certification would increase trust among buyers that the logs and log products they purchase are from well-managed sources.

To ensure sustainable supply of raw materials for timber-based industries, the government has embarked on a forest plantation programme which also aims to reduce dependency of logs from natural forests.

“The government hopes the industry will increase its commitment to ensure the success of this government initiative.

“In the protection of environment, we hope the industry will strengthen its efforts to preserve the environment by enhancing compliance with environmental regulations implemented in the state.

“By doing this, the industry is not only giving back to society in the form of monetary or tangible benefits, but also intangible benefits such as clean air and water for us to consume,” he said.

Awang Tengah noted that the state government has also stepped up efforts to eradicate illegal logging, as the activity contributes to environmental degradation which leads to biodiversity loss, destruction of habitats for animals and deforestation.

He added illegal logging has caused the state to lose millions of ringgit in terms of timber royalties while also tarnishing the state’s reputation and image, and called on timber industry players to work together with the government in ensuring that harvested logs are from legal sources and in compliance with all laws and requirements.

“The state government has strengthened the timber legality verification by introducing verification by the third party in the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) Standard.

“Hence, we urge industry players to give full commitment and take part in implementing the policies and initiatives introduced by the government,” he said.

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