December 17

Sustainable Forest Management License Agreement Sabah

In 1997, the government introduced the concept of FMU for Class 2 forest areas to limit excessive logging through the implementation of a long-term forest management plan or a Sustainable Forest Management Authorization Agreement (SFMLA) focused on the economy, social affairs and the environment. He stated that FMU licences should be awarded to firms engaged in the forestry sector and, ideally, solid capital, so that companies do not depend on the harvesting of trees before they can carry out restoration or replanting work. “In the context of sustainable forest management, harvesting is no longer the main activity. Licensees must find a balance between harvesting, restoring and replanting the forest. He stated that the 33 current licensees for 30 to 100 years received FMUs for 1.8 million hectares of the Class 2 commercial forest reserve. He said some FMU licensees felt engaged in forest management, but some companies have changed ownership up to four times. He stated that the department should be cautious about terminating FMU licences, as the existing agreement did not have an exit clause. He said about 48 percent of Sabah`s land mass was covered by Class 1 to 7 forests. Indeed, he said that Yayasan Sabah had taken more than 30,000 hectares on 53,000 hectares of a licensee through negotiations. Asked whether he considered the FMU to be a success, Mashor said that the FMU was a good concept that needed to be improved. “Based on current policy, all new FMUs will be awarded only to Yayasan Sabah or a joint venture with Yayasan Sabah.” Since GE14, the government has not granted new FMU authorizations. He said that the authorization of the FMU was the authority of the Chief Minister and the State Cabinet.

Of the 37 FMU licenses, four have been cancelled, said Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini. As a public servant, Mashor stated that he was not familiar with the names of the licensees and did not know who they were related with. Interviewed by reporters, Mashor said that 324,620 hectares have been replanted out of the 500,000 hectares earmarked for industrial tree planting (PTI). During the press conference, he also published the names of companies and the ownership of six FMU licensees, recently published in the media. “The last four licences were issued in the first quarter of 2018.” “75% of them meet minimum standards, although improvements are still needed,” he told a press conference yesterday.

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