M’sia has 4.2m hectares of natural forest

The country is committed to reserve above 50% of its forest as underlined at the 1992 Earth Summit, says minister

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) has certified about 4.2 million hectares of natural forest and 109,025 hectares of forest plantations.

MTCC CEO Yong Teng Koon said the certified forest and plantation areas are managed and supervised by 22 management units including the state forestry departments and private firms.

“Different state has different sizes of forest and plantation forest areas. The certifications for two timber producing states, Kedah and Johor, have been revoked, but they are in the process of reapplying for the certification.

“Currently, about 4.2 million hectares of natural forest have been certified, while the forest plantations have reached 109,000 hectares,” he said at the MTCC 20th Anniversary Conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The latest data showed that the total forest area in Peninsular Malaysia stood at 5.77 million hectares. Meanwhile, Sarawak has 10.08 million hectares of rainforest.

Kedah, Johor and Kelantan have yet to seek the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) from MTCC, while four other states — Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka and Perlis — are not producing timber products.

MTCS is a voluntary certification scheme introduced in 2001 to sustainably manage the country’s forest and to meet the growing demand of timber products.

To date, MTCS-certified timber and timber products are shipped to 66 countries, amounting to 348,802 cu m in 2018, comprising of plywood, doors and furniture — a huge jump compared to 732 cu m of sawn timber exported to the Netherlands in 2002.

Last year, the domestic timber industry contributed 1.6% to the national GDP or 2.2% of Malaysia’s total export with earnings of RM22.3 billion.

As of July 2019, the total timber-based exports reached RM12.5 billion with an increased volume in the downstream products.

MTCC chairman Datuk K Yogeesvaran said the certification council is formulating the MTCC Strategy 2020-2025 to amplify the certification efforts.

“In the past two decades, MTCC has disrupted the status quo of forest management practices and the production of timber products in Malaysia through the implementation of the accreditation scheme.

“But more needs to be done to ensure that the scheme maintains its position to stay relevant and contributes towards sustainability efforts, locally and globally,” he said.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (picture) said Malaysia is committed to reserve above 50% of its forest as underlined at the 1992 Earth Summit.

“Malaysia has been able to honour the pledge made during the 1992 Earth Summit by maintaining more than 50% of our land under forest cover. To date, Malaysia’s forest cover is about 55%.

“Twenty seven years after the 1992 Earth Summit, only a total 495 million hectares or 12% of the world’s forests have been certified for sustainable forest management, which includes 44 million hectares or 8.8% of tropical forests.

“Out of the figures, Malaysia has contributed 10% to the total sustainable and certified tropical forests,” she said.