KUCHING (June 12): Permanent Forest Estates (PFEs) have the potential to be designated as a carbon storage area in addition to its role as a production forest, said Datu Hamden Mohammad.
The Sarawak Forest Department director said PFEs are also important for the preservation of biological diversity, non-timber forest products, water catchment areas, and recreational activities to support conservation activities outside of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs).
In view of this, he said 3.95 million hectares of the state’s forest cover have been gazetted as PFEs while more than 872,000 hectares of land are gazetted as TPAs.
Sarawak has 62 per cent of its landmass, or approximately 7.65 million hectares under forest cover.
“The Sarawak government intends to increase the total land gazetted as PFEs to six million hectares in the future.
“Up till May 2023, the state government has newly-gazetted the Murum Protected Forest (7,236ha) and Bakam Forest Reserve (907ha), so this means that we have a total of 117 PFEs in the state right now.
“This means that Sarawak has contributed the most to total forest cover in Malaysia, which is 42.4 per cent,” he said at the opening of the Forest Conservation Conference which was officiated by Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg here today.
Hamden said the Sarawak Forest Department has always been at the forefront of implementing forest carbon initiatives to lessen the effects of climate change and promote sustainable forest management practices.
“Deforestation and forest degradation are key causes of greenhouse gas emissions hence the initiatives have been designed to address these issues.
“The policy directive offers a framework for carrying out forest carbon projects in Sarawak and will direct the growth of the state’s forest carbon market,” he said.
He pointed out that through carbon trading, Sarawak’s forest carbon efforts are anticipated to provide the state with a new source of revenue.
“Carbon trading provides an opportunity for Sarawak to monetise its forest resources and promote sustainable forest management practices.
“It is hoped that the revenue generated from carbon trading will contribute to the development of local communities and the conservation of the state’s natural resources,” he said.
On a related matter, Hamden said Forest Management Certification (FMC) is a key tool for implementing sustainable forest management (SFM) to ensure that it meets international standards and minimises the environmental impacts of forest operations.
“We are making a great effort towards achieving our target of getting all our long-term forest timber licenses certified.
“To date, 20 Forest Management Units (FMU) and seven Forest Plantation management units (FPMU) with a total area of 1.78 million hectares and 97,966 hectares respectively have been certified under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS),” he said, adding that this certification marked a significant milestone in the state’s efforts to promote SFM and safeguard the environment.
On the conference, Hamden said it will provide a platform for participants to discuss new approaches to forest management, innovative technologies, and sustainable business models that can help promote conservation and development simultaneously.
“We recognise the challenges in managing our forest sustainably and therefore through this conference, we aim to explore ways in which we can bridge the gap between conservation and sustainable development in permanent forests.
“This will involve bringing together experts and stakeholders from various fields to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices,” he said.
The two-day conference serves as a platform for conservationists, researchers, government agencies, NGOs, communities and other stakeholders in conservation and protection of the threatened natural ecosystems to share and impart their knowledge, reflecting the experiences and to chart the future of the conservation efforts in the permanent forests of Sarawak.
Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Deputy Energy and Environmental Sustainability Minister Dr Hazland Abang Hipni, Deputy Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Dato Sri Huang Tiong Sii, Ministry of Natural Resources and Urban Development permanent secretary Datu Zaidi Mahdi, and Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change deputy secretary general (Natural Resources) Abdul Wahid Abu Salim.