Malaysia and Indonesia want to bring other Southeast Asian countries on their side amid ongoing disputes with the European Union over environmental and deforestation regulations that are set to take effect in late 2024, with the two nations worried about the regulations’ impact on the region’s agriculture exports. Both Southeast Asian states have independently initiated complaints against the EU to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for around 85% of global palm oil production, argue that the EU Deforestation-Free Regulation is discriminatory and unfairly punishes small-scale farmers who will struggle to cope with the bureaucratic demands set by Brussels.
A joint collaboration among several key stakeholders has led to the significant combat of forest-related crimes such as illegal hunting and logging here.
State Assistant minister to Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir said Yayasan Sabah Group, Sabah Environmental Trust, Sabah Forestry Department, and the Sabah Wildlife Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August, last year.
European Union rules aimed at stopping deforestation threaten widespread disruption for Southeast Asia’s rubber sector, from Cambodia’s 30,000 small farmers to major exporters in Thailand and Malaysia.
The concern for Southeast Asia, critics say, is that these requirements will disproportionately hurt small farmers while failing to adequately address rubber’s role in deforestation.
The deforestation caused by the rubber farming in Thailand and the world has been significantly underestimated, according to new findings from two scientific studies, with Southeast Asian rubber production potentially contributing up to three times more forest depletion than previously thought.
With over 4 million hectares of forest lost for rubber production since 1993, an area the size of Switzerland, “the effects of rubber on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia could be extensive,” according to a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
In Southeast Asia, mature rubber plantations covered 14.2 million hectares. Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for more than 70% of these plantations.
China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos were also important rubber-producing countries. Rubber plantations that were closed down before 2021 were excluded from the analysis, despite the fact that they may have contributed to deforestation.
The role of community rangers is very important in efforts to combat encroachment, illegal logging and mining as well as the killing of wildlife, therefore increasing the number of rangers including from the Orang Asli community is described as the right decision.
Negotiations have begun between the world’s top two palm oil producers and the EU to address sticking points in a deforestation law that would make it harder for the commodity to enter European markets.
Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85% of global palm oil exports, and would be heavily impacted by the EU Deforestation-Free Regulation (EUDR), which prohibits imports into the EU of commodities sourced by clearing forests.
At the first joint meeting of an EU-Indonesia-Malaysia task force, delegates discussed risk designations for producer countries as well as the role of certification schemes like the RSPO to help meet EUDR requirements.
Indonesian officials say their main issue with the EUDR is that it discriminates against small farmers, who manage 41% of the total plantation area in the country and would have difficulty complying with the new regulation’s requirements.
A logging company owner and manager were charged in the Sessions Court with illegal logging and unlawfully possesing logs in Sipitang.
Company owner Yun Ket Chun, 48, and manager Tiong Chee Khong, 49, pleaded not guilty before judge Elsie Primus to the four charges today.
In the first and second counts, the duo was accused of felling trees without a permit or licence under the Forest Enactment 1968 between July 17, 2019 and Feb 4, 2020.
They cut down more than 700 trees in 2 forest reserves and state land. Fines and jail time are being requested. all the logs were seized by the Forestry Department and had been auctioned.
Last week, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) officially accepted a complaint against Malaysian timber giant Samling filed by civil society groups last October, The Borneo Project and Bruno Manser Fonds report.
The FSC accepted the complaint after determining there was “sufficient evidence” regarding violation of its policies. In an online statement last Wednesday, the FSC said it will open a case into alleged illegal logging, violations of traditional and human rights, destruction of high conservation value forests and significant conversion of forests as grounds for dissociation.
Recently it was announced that logging concessions in Sarawak can be extended for an additional 30 years when they are certified. The domestic press has reported one company, Ta Ann Holdings, secured approval from the Sarawak authorities to renew the licence of all its timber concessions for 30 years until 2053.
For the fourth time, the hearing of a defamation suit filed by Malaysia-based timber company Samling against Indigenous rights group SAVE Rivers has been delayed.
According to the statement of claim filed by Samling plaintiffs, the case hinges on eight articles published on SAVE Rivers’ website between June 2020 and March 2021 involving allegations of illegal logging and a rush to gain sustainable forestry certification, which Samling says is untrue.
Last month, 160 organizations signed a letter describing this suit as a strategic litigation against public participation, or SLAPP case, noting that the fine — plaintiffs are asking for 5 million ringgit ($1.1 million) — would bankrupt SAVE Rivers.
The deferment of the trial comes days after the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization that operates a certification scheme for sustainable forestry, said the company will be investigated for alleged violations of the council’s policies.
The revelations mirror Deforestation Inc. findings from around the world, which showed how auditing firms hired as environmental verifiers often ignore or fail to identify serious transgressions by their clients.
Audit firms in Finland, Indonesia, Chile, India, and Germany are also mentioned.
Ta Ann Holdings Bhd has secured approval from the Sarawak authorities to renew the licence of all its timber concessions for 30 years until 2053.
The group’s timber concessions have been consolidated and amalgamated into three forest management units (FMUs) in the Song-Kapit region in central Sarawak, covering a total of 346,021 ha, according to executive chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi.
He said all the three FMUs – Kapit, Pasin and Raplex – have obtained the certificate for forest management (natural forest) under the Malaysian timber certification scheme (MTCS), which is endorsed by the programme for the endorsement of forest certification (PEFC).
Barclays has published new supply chain sustainability requirements for clients in forest-risk commodity sectors including beef and palm oil.
Barclay’s has added a new Forestry and Agricultural Commodities statement to its website this week. The statement stipulates that Barclays has “no appetite” to support companies directly involved in illegal forest clearance.
From the beginning of July, beef producers will not be able to undertake work in areas of the Amazon rainforest cleared or converted after 2008.
Those producing beef in South America will also need to prove that they gave deforestation-free supply chains by 2025. By the end of 2025, these firms will need to update their policy commitments on deforestation and human rights, and to monitor and report on deforestation-free product volumes.
Barclays (BARC.L) has told beef sector clients they must prevent deforestation in their South American supply chains, in a policy document seen by Reuters that toughens the bank’s stance but stops short of campaigners’ demands.
Plantation and commodities minister Fadillah Yusof slammed the European Union today for passing the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), claiming that it was “unjust” to the palm oil industry in Malaysia.
Fadillah, who is also deputy prime minister, said the regulation was a deliberate effort to increase costs and erect barriers to the entry of Malaysia’s palm oil, which would affect over 450,000 smallholders in the industry.
Chairman for Law and Order, Edwin Maigen, called for the investigation, charging and harsh punishment of three Malaysians, whom he alleges are connected to logging companies operating in New Ireland. He accused Malaysian companies of monopolizingi the logging industry in PNG and harming the country’s people and infrastructure.
Acting Provincial Administrator and Forestry Enforcement Crime Unit Chairman Moses Taram expressed his concern about the incident and announced a crackdown on illegal activities at logging camps.
A task force comprising customs, immigration, police and labor will investigate logging camps to ensure that these companies operate within the legal limits.
In a study released this week titled “State of the Malaysian Rainforest 2023,” climate group RimbaWatch says it based its “landmark” deforestation prediction on a review of public documents such as forestry maps, project descriptions, land activity and real-estate alerts.
“From our analysis, we estimate that a further 2,346,601 hectares of forests in Malaysia have been earmarked for deforestation,” the study said.
“The study found that between 2017 and 2021, the entities driving deforestation projects the most were timber plantations at 41.6%, followed by palm oil plantations at 15.5%.”
Forestry authorities put timber and palm plantations under the categories of “forest plantations” and “forest covers,” the study said. But such plantations actually involve deforestation and “conversion of forest reserve lands into industrial monoculture plantations for commodities such as rubber and acacia.”
The state government has to double up efforts to focus on combating illegal logging activities in Sarawak, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) national council member Abun Sui Anyit.
Abun was responding to Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad’s revelation in the Dewan Rakyat recently on the high number of illegal logging cases in Malaysia.
Nik Nazmi said out of the 90 cases last year, 60 were recorded in Sarawak, while Perak recorded the second highest number of cases at 11, followed by Kelantan with 10.
MALAYSIA’S timber export contributed RM23.25 billion to the country’s economy as of November last year, despite the drop in demand from Europe according to Malaysian Timber Industry Board’s (MTIB) report.
The country’s timber industry still has a few obstacles to overcome, mainly with the requirements in certification of the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that may limit the export-ing of timber products into multiple markets.
JAKARTA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s biggest palm oil producers, plan to send envoys to the European Union to discuss the impact of the bloc’s new deforestation law on their palm oil sectors, ministers from the Southeast Asian countries said on Thursday.
KUANTAN: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has detained a civil servant and a government retiree over bribe allegations linked to timber theft in forest reserve areas around Kuala Lipis.
The two male suspects were believed to have received bribes of between RM500 and RM2,000 from a company owner from November 2019 until 2020 to cover up the illegal activity, according to a source.
The first suspect, aged 40, was arrested at about 2.30pm today (Jan 5) at the Raub MACC branch office when he turned up to give his statement, while the second suspect, aged 61, was nabbed at 7pm yesterday (Jan 4).
- The Ulu Muda rainforest is one of the last large, continuous tracts of forest in the Malay Peninsula, providing vital habitat for countless species as well as water for millions of people in northern Malaysia.
- Satellite data indicate deforestation activities are intensifying in the greater Ulu Muda landscape, including in protected areas such as Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.
- Sources say the forest loss is likely due to legal logging.
- Conservationists worry that the loss of Ulu Muda rainforest will have detrimental impacts on the region’s biodiversity and water security, as well as contribute to global climate change.
Illegal logging activities are still rampant in almost all the states in Malaysia, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said today. However, he assured that the Forestry Departments of the affected states were closely monitoring the situation.
- Critics of a government plantation scheme have slammed the program following revelations that only a fraction of forest reserves cleared for plantations over the past decade have actually been replanted.
- An investigation by environmental news site Macaranga found that only 5% of the 77,331 hectares (191,089 acres) of forest reserves cleared in Pahang state for plantations between 2012 and 2020 were replanted.
- A Pahang state opposition lawmaker has called the program a “cover-up” for a logging scheme, while an environmental activist has criticized the government for its lack of accountability.
Culprits convicted of plundering, damaging or starting fires in the nation’s forest reserves will be punished with heavier fines and longer jail terms.
Illegal loggers, for instance, are looking at a minimum of five to 20 years in jail and fines of up to RM1mil if convicted.
Two logging companies were acquitted by the Sessions Court on a charge with conducting illegal logging in a forest reserve in Tongod from 2016 to 2017.
The Kelantan state government has admitted that illegal logging and encroaching occur in the state’s permanent forest reserves but it is not as serious when compared with other states.
“Illegal logging does occur (in Kelantan). There are villagers who want to open orchards, plant durian trees and oil palm, so they cut down trees in forest reserves,” Kelantan deputy menteri besar Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said.
Effective Jan. 3, the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo has ended a ban on exporting unprocessed logs.
The ban was put in place in 2018 in a bid to bolster the state’s timber processing industry; critics warn that overturning it will lead to an increase in both legal and illegal logging in the state’s remaining forests.
A Sabah DAP lawmaker has panned the government’s decision to lift the ban on timber exports, which has been in place since 2018.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said the move could trigger a recurrence of illegal logging activities, with little enforcement to prevent it from happening.
The Pahang state government has been urged by the opposition to conduct an immediate investigation on what was claimed to be illegal and uncontrolled logging in the state.
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