States should adhere to new forest management guidelines – to be issued

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PUTRAJAYA, June 18 (Bernama) — The Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia will issue guidelines on the jurisdiction of state governments in managing forests in their own states, says Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister, Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

In line with this, he said his ministry would propose amendments to the National Forestry Act 1984 to enable the guidelines that touch on the issuing of logging licence and gazetting of forests to be part of the Act.

“If all the state governments follow the set process, problems will not arise. But what I see now is that the power to gazette forest reserves all lies with the state executive council. That is why decisions to gazette forests are easily made at the exco meetings.”

He said this when met by reporters at a joint Pesta Kaamatan, Hari Gawai and Aidilfitri celebration at the ministry, here, today.

Dr Xavier also urged the states to cooperate with the federal government and to look at the standard operating procedures for forests that are water catchment areas.

“Forest management could be a sensitive issue and impact on the country’s major commodity, palm oil. It occurs when forest reserves are opened up and turned into vast oil palm plantations.

“Foreign countries view this commodity as the result of deforestation and refuse to buy the commodity. This action can adversely affect our economy,” he said.

According to him, the states had been referring to their respective enactments in managing forests but with the guidelines, forest management could be made uniform for all the states.

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