Malaysia loses RM900mil a year to illegal deforestation
Malaysia is believed to have lost between RM800mil and RM900mil a year to illegal logging, said Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) president Datuk Paul Low.
Saying this was the estimated worth of illegal logs going out of the country, Low added that he believed illegal logging was still “pretty much under control” in Peninsular Malaysia and that more attention needed to be paid to Sabah and Sarawak.
He said he believed the state governments were carrying out their enforcement activities against illegal logging.
“Yes, there are sporadic areas where legal loggers may extend beyond their boundaries. But I think that the issue of forestry conservation also has to be tackled at the policy side,” he said after the launch of its Forest Watch Project and public awareness campaign on forest conservation.
He said state governments must designate and gazette selected areas for forest conservation to avoid them being allocated for forestry activities.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali said the agency took the issue of corruption in forestry activities very seriously.
He said MACC received around 88 complaints last year from various parties including non-governmental organisations and the public.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said the ministry was in the final stages of revising the National Forestry Act to include new provisions for higher penalties, imprisonment and strict liability.
He said high timber demand and shortage of supply from the permanent forest reserves and state lands were the main reasons behind illegal logging.
The ministry has also established the 1NRE Enforcement team comprising various enforcement departments within NRE to conduct integrated enforcement operations, he said in his speech which was read out by Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim.
He welcomed TI-M's project initiative to involve the public in using Google Earth as a tool to become the eyes and ears of the forest and help monitor any irregularities in forest cover through its website www.timalaysia-forestwatch.org.my.