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MALAYSIA – Sarawak rejects NGO’s projection of forest loss

FREE MALAYSIA TODAY Wed, March 22, 2023

The state’s forest department director says RimbaWatch’s projection is based on ‘perceptions’.

The 2021 Auditor-General’s report showed that Sarawak’s forest coverage stood at 7.65 million hectares.

PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak forest department has rejected an environmental group’s projection of forest loss in the state.

The department’s director Hamden Mohammad said RimbaWatch’s projection was based on perceptions and trends of the opening of land for development.

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He said while Sarawak was developing at a fast rate, the state government was committed to balancing development and environmental sustainability.

Hamden said under the Sarawak Land Use Policy 2012, seven million hectares of permanent forests must be preserved.

The 2021 Auditor-General’s report also showed that Sarawak’s forest coverage stood at 7.65 million hectares or 61.4% of the state’s total land area.

Earlier this week, RimbaWatch released a study in which it estimated that 2.3 million hectares of forests in Malaysia had been earmarked for deforestation.

Of this, it is projected that Sarawak will lose 1.8 million hectares of forest in the future.

RimbaWatch’s projection is based on data on past deforestation, “alerts” concerning areas at risk of deforestation through zoning of forested land for non-forest usage and real estate listings of forested land.

Hamden said that on top of preserving its forests, Sarawak was also committed to planting 35 million trees by 2025, mandating replanting of logging areas and reducing the impact of logging activities through certified methods.

“Sarawak is also working towards reducing its reliance on logging for revenue and shifting towards new economic activities including carbon trading,” said Hamden.

“This will indirectly contribute to the preservation of forest areas. Based on our efforts, Sarawak will be able to maintain its forest coverage.”


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