Sarawak pioneers country's forestry and biodiversity conservation
With more than 12 million hectares of diverse natural resources, Sarawak is keeping more than half of its land under a sustainable forestry programme and making it one of Asia's richest forestlands.
Malaysia's largest state has developed a far-sighted forest policy and comprehensive legislation to support sustainable forestry. The Forest Department Sarawak also oversees forest practices in compliance with the standards set by the International Tropical Timber Organization.
"We have a clear land use policy," says Haji Sapuan Ahmad, director of forests. "A total of 6 million hectares had been earmarked for permanent forest estates for selective logging and 1 million hectares as totally protected areas consisting of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves, which means there is no logging at all. The rest is for agriculture conversion, settlement and cities."
Sarawak cannot afford its sustainable forestry programmes to fail. The improvement in the socioeconomic status of the rural poor remains a priority for Sarawak, where an estimated 100,000 people are directly involved in the forestry sector in addition to the numerous people engaged in downstream activities and spin-off businesses.
Sarawak has been recognised internationally as one of the 25 biological hot spots, having rich biodiversity, distinctive ecosystems and extraordinary biological elements. Its Gunung Mulu National Park has been declared as a World Heritage Site and Kuching Wetlands National Park as one of the Ramsar sites of the world. Sharing international boundaries with Kalimantan, Indonesia and Brunei, Sarawak recognises the need to have collaborative conservation initiatives with its neighbours. A transboundary Borneo biodiversity conservation project was realised in 1998, connecting adjacent Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Sarawak and Betung Kerihun National Park in Kalimantan and sharing conservation responsibility for 1 million hectares of protected areas for orangutans of Borneo and other endemic species.
To further enhance the transboundary management of natural resources, the governments of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia signed an agreement in 2007 - known as the "Heart of Borneo" - to jointly conserve and manage approximately 22 million hectares of tropical forests across the three borders of these countries.
Forest Department Sarawak