State keen to adopt carbon offset scheme
KUCHING: The state is interested to adopt the ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ (REDD) initiative as part of its sustainable forest conservation programme.
Currently the government is at the initial discussion stage with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia to examine REDD potential of the Forest Management Unit at Anap-Muput, located in the Bintulu interiors, as it is a certified sustainable forest management site.
This is disclosed by Ministry of Planning and Resource Management deputy permanent secretary Datu Len Talif Salleh while officiating at the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) workshop on ‘Carbon Offset and Forest Conservation’ at Wisma STA yesterday.
His speech was read by acting Forests director Ali Yusop.
Len Talif said: “REDD is essentially a proposal whereby developed nations, seeking to meet commitments under international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, provide compensation and financial incentives to developing nations.
“It is to help the developing nations to voluntarily reduce national deforestation rates and associated carbon emissions below a baseline.”
If a country can demonstrate successful emission reductions below this baseline, then they may sell these carbon credits on the international carbon trading market, thereby combating climate change and meeting environmental and socioeconomic goal of sustainable development, Len explained.
Len Talif, who is also Forest director, added that a REDD strategy need not refer solely to the establishment of national parks or protected areas.
By the careful design of rules, modalities and guidelines, REDD could include land use practices such as shifting cultivation by indigenous peoples and strictly enforced reduced impact logging (RIL), provided sustainable rotation and harvesting cycles could be demonstrated. REDD would not only combat climate change, but also generate funds for the conservation of tropical forests in developing nations, he noted.
“However, Sarawak will require capacity building, technical assistance and financial support for a number of enabling activities to participate in future REDD activities,” he stated, adding that the British High Commission so far has provided funds for the project in support to the nation’s low carbon goals.
He continued that developed nations should use the REDD initiative to create a strong demand for emission reductions by maintaining stringent emission targets and ensuring that REDD does not replace other emission reductions effort.
“They should also directly address the underlying cause of deforestation which is their insatiable demand for timber, bio-fuels and other natural resources,” he pointed out.
“As Malaysia remain committed to ensure at least 50 per cent of its land area remain as forests as pledged in the Rio Summit, we want the global community to take note of our efforts in the forest conservation so that we are not accused of allowing irresponsible deforestation and illegal logging activities.
“We are also emphasising and encouraging the use of sustainable forest management (SFM),” Len Talif explained.
Therefore, he highlighted that deforestation could be avoided either by paying directly for forest preservation or by offsets funds to provide substitutes for forest-based products.
REDD credits provide carbon offsets for the protection of forests and provide a possible mechanism to allow funding from developed nations to assist in the protection of native forests in developing nation.
Speaking earlier, SFC acting deputy general manager for Applied Forest Science and Industry Development Lucy Chong stated that REDD has been a mechanism proposed to slow down climate change by paying developing countries to stop cutting down their forests.
The scheme has the potential to generate substantial funds for forest conservation and sustainable development, while helping mitigate climate change.
Also present were WSC Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal, WSC Cambodia director Dr Tom Evans, Sarawak Timber Association chief executive officer Dr Lee Hua Seng and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment deputy secretary of the Environment Management and Climate Change Division Dr Gary Theseira.