@Green March/April 2022 | Page 26

Malaysia committed to protecting and conserving forested areas and biodiversity


@ Forest | March-April , 2022
Tengku Hassanal ( centre ), Wan Rosdy ( second from left ), Takiyuddin Hassan ( second from right ).

Increase forested areas !

Malaysia committed to protecting and conserving forested areas and biodiversity

INTERNATIONAL Forest Day is celebrated on Mar 21 every year to increase society ’ s awareness regarding the importance of forests , forest protection and forest conservation . Forests are essential to every being on earth . They serve as habitats for animals and provide enormous resources to cater for human livelihoods . Aside from being valuable assets to the country ’ s economy , they also play an essential role in climate change mitigation .

This year ’ s national-level celebration of International Forest Day was held in the ecological corridor area Central Forest Spine ( CFS ), next to Tanum Forest Reserve , Pahang . The theme for the 2022 ’ s national level celebration was “ Hutan untuk Kesejahteraan Masyarakat ” -- forests for community ’ s well-being .
The event was officiated by the Regent of Pahang , Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-​Sultan Abdullah Ri ’ ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah , and attended by Energy and Natural Resources ( KeTSA ) Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan and Pahang Menteri Besar Dato Sri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail .
Takiyuddin shared Malaysia ’ s commitment to maintaining at least 50 per cent of forest cover in the country . At present , 55.3 per cent of the land area in Malaysia , or 18.27 million hectares , is covered by forests .
“ Recognising the importance of forests in ensuring the community ’ s well-being , the 4th National Physical Plan ( NPP ) has targeted 50 per cent of forested areas in Peninsular Malaysia by 2040 .
“ This target is a game-changer in strengthening efforts to preserve and conserve forested areas , especially in Peninsular Malaysia .”
He then urged State governments in Peninsular Malaysia to take action on increasing the existing forested areas , which now only stood at 43.41 per cent .
“ The federal government is committed to preserving and conserving forested areas and biodiversity in close collaboration with State governments and other stakeholders through the implementation of various initiatives and projects .”
The importance of Central Forest Spine
Takiyuddin emphasised the importance of CFS during his speech at the event . He said the establishment of CFS was in line with the 2nd NPP . It is the backbone of Malaysia ’ s environmentally sensitive area network and ecological corridor to ensure forest landscape connectivity in Peninsular Malaysia .
“ CFS area is vital to protect and conserve plant and wildlife habitat in the forests . It also aims to minimise human-wildlife conflicts caused by forest fragmentation ,” said Takiyuddin .
“ There is no better time than now to prioritise forest protection and sustainable management as our main daily agenda . Therefore , awareness creation activities on the importance of forests must be empowered to all , especially at school , university , and the public .”
In addition to CFS , KeTSA is also involved in the initiative of Heart of Borneo , restoration projects , reclamation and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas , mangrove tree planting project and suitable species at the national coastline , social forestry and wildlife conservation , including the preservation of the country ’ s iconic species , the Malayan Tiger .
Amendments to the National Forestry Act
He shared that KeTsa just tabled the National Forestry ( Amendment ) Bill 2022 for first reading in Dewan Rakyat on Mar 3 , 2022 . The bill is expected to be tabled for a second reading in the next session of Parliament in July 2022 .
“ The bill took 13 years to be finalised . Alhamdulillah , it finally was brought to Parliament recently .”
Takiyuddin then shared some improvements made to the existing National Forestry Act . Among the key amendments involved were :
• Stricken the process of excising and replacing permanent forest reserves ( HSK ) by introducing a public inquiry process
• Strengthening forest enforcements to eliminate illegal possession of forest produce
• Increasing fine and enforcing harsher