KUCHING, Nov 22 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg tonight told the Forestry Department and Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NRDB) to work together to ensure that all developments do not jeopardise environmental integrity and forest sustainability.
He said the recent amendments to the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance 1958 were aimed at strengthening the regulatory mechanism for the sustainable management of natural resources and protecting environmental quality in the state.
“There will be a lot of developments in the coming years in the state and we don’t want them to affect the forest landscape,” he said at a gala dinner to mark the 100th anniversary of the Forestry Department.
The chief minister said though Sarawak is now on a path to diversifying it revenue source, the contribution by the Forestry Department is still a major source of revenue to the state.
He said the state government is expected to collect RM413 million from the forestry sector next year.
Abang Johari said he believed that the state’s forests will be an overlooked and undervalued asset in the future, and he urged the department to broaden its revenue base from the timber royalties and taxes collected from the logging operations.
He added royalties to be imposed on standing trees will be a new source of revenue for the state.
He noted a discussion is in progress between the department and industry players on the move that will affect logging operations areas.
He urged the department to look beyond conventional royalty collection from the logging activities.
“There is a lot of potential in the forests from a wider perspective that does not require the cutting of trees,” he said.
Among those who attended the gala dinner were the Sarawak Governor Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, state Cabinet ministers and senior government officers with their spouses.