KOTA KINABALU (Aug 25): The Sabah State Government intends to amend the Forestry Enactment 1968 to ensure the state’s forestry legal framework can move in line with the amendment to the National Forestry Act (APN) 1984 which was approved by the Dewan Rakyat last July.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Noor said the proposed amendment also covers more challenging aspects in today’s forestry world, including meeting the international agenda to overcome climate change issues, mitigation methods through carbon trading and biodiversity conservation.
“This proposed amendment also streamlines the spaces or cooperation gaps between the licensees of the Sustainable Forest Management License Agreement (SFMLA) with the State Government, in line with the vision of sustainable forest management.
“I believe it is time for the Sabah State Government to also carry out similar efforts to amend the Forestry Enactment 1968 to ensure that the state’s forestry legal framework can move in line with current developments,”
he said at the 2022 Forestry Appreciation Ceremony at the Sabah International Convention Centre on Wednesday.
According to Hajiji, the amendment of APN 1984 aims to increase the protection of permanent forests in Malaysia, and has outlined strict conditions for gazetting out of any permanent forest reserves in Peninsular Malaysia.
“In this aspect I believe they have emulated us, because it was practised earlier in Sabah. I also understand that through the amendment, the rate of additional fines, punishments and penalties to curb forest offenses that damage the environment has also been increased.
“Based on this development, I suggest that the Sabah Forestry Department and also related departments such as the State Attorney General’s Department and the Land Revenue Secretary’s Office, to continue to review the provisions contained in the 1968 Forestry Enactment, and assimilate the amendments that have been made, according to the interests of the State Government”, he added.
According to him, efforts also need to be continuously improved to strengthen the management of forest reserves, in support of the government’s policy to maintain at least 50 percent of the state’s land area covered in forested areas, as well as achieve 30 percent of Totally Protected Areas (TPA).
Hajiji in his speech congratulated the Sabah Forestry Department for successfully taking the initial step of setting the target of 30 per cent of Sabah’s landfill area ahead of other states and regions in Malaysia.
“Due to the efforts of the Chief Conservator of Forests and the teamwork practiced by the foresters, we Sabahans are proud that half of the state’s area is still covered by forests. We are actually one of the main contributors in the mitigation of climate change that is affecting the world.
“Several proactive measures have been taken to prevent our forests from being endangered in the future through the strengthening of enforcement activities and sustainable forest management. Among them is through a joint venture by the State Government together with SFMLA holders, through the concept of smart partnership.
“Through this joint venture, an area of approximately 1.65 million hectares of Class II Commercial Forest Reserve has already been licensed to SFMLA license holders, to be managed through the concept of Sustainable Forest Management”, he said.
According to him, he had visited two SFMLA areas namely Jawala Plantation Industries Sdn Bhd and Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd last July to see for himself the progress of forest plantation development in both areas.
“I found that these two areas have shown positive progress in developing forest plantations in their license areas. This achievement should be used as an example by all SFMLA license holders who have been entrusted to develop forest plantations in Sabah.
“Hopefully the momentum of this forest plantation development can be continued and improved in the future, to support the State Government’s desire to develop the forest plantation sector in a progressive manner,” he emphasised.
Hajiji, who is also the State Minister of Finance, also hopes that employees of the Sabah Forestry Department will apply digitalisation transformation in daily services so that the delivery system in public services, especially for the forestry sector, can be continuously improved, delivered faster and give satisfaction to customers and the people of Sabah.
In conjunction with the appreciation event, 63 Forestry Department staff received the Excellent Service Award (APC), 32 SFMLA, 13 Sustainable Forest Management Projects (SFM) were awarded with compliance certificates for the year 2021 and 13 received the JPS Conservation Partner Award in recognition of their contribution and commitment in implementing the conservation agenda in this state.