Updated: Anwar: Why is illegal logging happening despite modern monitoring systems?

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Parliament today. Photo screen grab from RTM’s livestream of Parliament session.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 – Why are there still illegal logging activities going on when the country is already equipped with modern forest management and environment monitoring systems, asked Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Parliament sitting today.

“It is good hear that a lot of systems including the sophisticated ones are available, but the question is on enforcement, monitoring. Why are there still activities of illegal logging going on?” Anwar said following a response to his earlier question on enforcement activities in the country’s forest management.

Answering his question, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Takiyuddin Hassan informed the Dewan of the various initiatives the government has taken through its agencies including the Forestry Department to monitor and enforce forest regulations.

He said the government was serious about overcoming the issues related to forest management.

Anwar however reiterated his dissatisfaction with the level of monitoring. While it is good to know that the country has remote sensing of forest areas, but there are still landslides floods happening due to damages brought on by logging and other activities in these areas, he said.

Takiyuddin said Malaysia carries out the monitoring of its forests in line with its policy of sustainable forest management.

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources monitors logging activities in its permanent forest reserves through its various agencies such as the forest departments in all the states in Peninsular Malaysia as well as in Sabah and Sarawak.

The government controls the opening up of forests for use as production forests, known as Annual Allowable Cut for Permanent Reserved Forest. Allocated forest areas are set aside every five years under the Malaysia Plan, with approval from the National Land Council. This is based on the natural regeneration capacity of each of the forest area, he said.

For the Malaysia Plan (2021-2025), a total of 188,550 hectares have been set aside for all states, amounting to 37,710 hectares per year, Takiyuddin said.

Other steps taken towards sustainable forest management is the internationally recognized certification process for logging activities undertaken by all the states involved.

There is also integrated enforcement and monitoring by all agencies involved in the management of the forests including a continuous monitoring system of the forests in Sarawak. A third party also audits the forest license agreement in Sabah.

Enforcement wise, legal actions are taken against those who commit offences under the forest regulations, he said.

Anwar stressed that the forest mismanagement issue has been a long outstanding issue and that more political will should be there to overcome the problem of illegal logging that continues in the country.