There are two main aspects that must be considered before the Forestry Department or Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry decide to issue new forest guidelines, deemed a sensitive issue with all the states in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
Each state would have its own ‘plans’ for its forested lands. How it is to be developed to benefit the state and sometimes decisions are made at the expense of exploiting the forests. The respective chief ministers have jurisdiction on the issuance of licenses, which most often than not is subject to abuse.
Whilst the intention of the Forest Department is applauded, the department must be responsible in ensuring that the terms and conditions of the new guidelines are observed. Otherwise, it is a pure waste of time and effort.
Are all the states in agreement with the federal government on the new guidelines on forest management? Secondly, how far are the state governments willing to go in implementing the new guidelines? Who has jurisdiction or final say on what shall be implemented and what shall not?
The forest department should also take cognizant of the fact that forest management has evolved to become highly relevant to the present day and age. It is a critical component in the sustainable management of our forests.
If the current context of forest management and sustainability is taken into account, the Forest Department should then expand the scope of their guidelines to include components such as Sustainable Forest Management (or Sustainable Forestry), Forest Economy, and so forth etc to ensure relevance.