Friday, October 09, 2009

Thumb Up for Selangor

Logging activities to be stopped
Oct 9, 2009

THE Selangor state government will no longer issue permits for logging on government land starting Jan 1 next year.

The blanket ruling will cover all logging activities for the inland and the mangrove forests in the state.

A source had informed The Star that the state government, in its exco meeting on July 22, had decided to stop all logging for the inland forest with immediate effect, while the ruling on the mangrove forest would be enforced on Jan 1.

It means all inland forest logging activities has stopped about two months ago while logging concessionaires holding the licence to log mangrove forest along the state’s coastal area could only do so until the end of the year.

Their licences will not be renewed upon its expiration on Dec 31.

The rule, however, does not cover the clearing of privately-owned land.

Selangor Forestry Department director Dr Yunus Zakaria said the department had not issued any new licence for logging concession this year.

He said any logging being carried out were done using the licence issued since 2006. It allows them to log until the licence expires.

He added that those concessionaires who were given the licence to log (from the previous government) were still allowed to continue until their concession expires or until their logging in the area was completed.

Asked whether they could apply to renew the licence next year, Dr Yunus said they could submit their application to them and they would forward it to the state government for approval.

“We have informed them about the expiry date of their licences,” he said.

The National Forest Council had set a quota of 1970ha of forest that could be logged for timber in Selangor.

The figure is the maximum area that could be harvested for timber every year.

However, Dr Yunus said the actual logging allowed through the licence approval was less than that of the quota by the National Forest Council.

When asked about the logging this year, he said it was much less and not even a quarter of the quoted figure allowed for harvesting.

“There are seven logging concessions for mangrove forests in Selangor,” said Dr Yunus.

“But only five of them are carrying out logging activities and sharing an area of 800ha in Pulau Ketam,” he said.

Article 74(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that land and natural resources are matters under the jurisdiction of the state governments.

It states that the state is empowered to enact laws and policies on forestry independently and a State Forestry Director is appointed to manage the administration and regulation of forest harvesting; revenue collection which includes premiums, royalties, deposits, cess and other charges, the management and development of forest resources as well as planning and coordination of the development of forest-based industry.

The states, through their respective Forestry Department, constitute permanent reserved forests and classify them for timber production and protection such as water catchment areas, wildlife reserves and bird sanctuaries, virgin jungle reserves, state parks and amenity forests.

All forest produce from these permanent reserved forests or state land remain the property of the state and all exploitation of forest produce must be licensed and administered by the state.

The state forestry directors have the power to arrest, search, seize and investigate forest-related offences, and impose fines and prosecute offenders.

In accordance with the requirement of National Forestry Act 1984, the State Forestry Departments are expected to submit annual reports to both the state authority as well as the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysia’s forest policy has always emphasised the balance between protection and production. Regulations are in place with regard to forest management operations, which specify in detail harvesting guidelines, codes of best practices, forest inventory and construction of forest roads.

All harvesting and related operations are carried out by licensed contractors.

These licences stipulate intensity of extraction, harvesting sequence, tree size limitations, transport routes and standard of road.

Harvesting timber, for both inland and mangrove forest, is allowed in the country, with the logging licence issued by the relevant state Forestry Departments.

The licence for harvesting the trees is granted to the concessionaires under the selective management systems to ensure the sustainability of the forest.

It advocates the selection of a cutting regime based on diameter limits and species composition of the standing trees. It means the logging is permitted to zones that have met the maturity criteria of the trees.

Meanwhile, the chopping of mangrove trees in Selangor is only allowed on those that have reached a minimum of 30cm in diameter.

With the average growth of about 0.6 to 0.8cm per annum, it will need about 10 years for mangrove trees to reach the minimum diameter before they can be harvested.

According to the Malaysian Nature Society, only 1.8% of Malaysia’s land is covered in mangroves, with over 50% of these mangroves lost between 1950 and 1985.

Forestry Department statistics show that Peninsular Malaysia had 85,000ha of mangrove forest in 2003, down from 86,497ha in 2002.

The Selangor Forestry Department statistics show that in 2008, a total of 18,088ha of the coastal area in the state is covered with mangrove forest.

Those who are felling the trees that are smaller would be fined if they are caught.

Contractors who cut immature tree can be fined a maximum of RM50,000. At the same time, those who are carrying out illegal logging in the state have to pay a heavier fines.

Under Section 15 of the National Forestry Act, 1984 (Amendment 1993) those illegal loggers can be fined up to a maximum of RM500,000 and mandatory imprisonment of one year minimum and a maximum of 20 years.

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