Kelantan illegal timber scandal

Kelantan: introduction

Kelantan is positioned in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Narathiwat Province of Thailand to the north, Terengganu to the south-east, Perak to the west, and Pahang to the south. To the north-east of Kelantan is the South China Sea.
Kelantan has a chiefly agrarian economy dominated by rice, rubber and tobacco. Fishing along its 96-kilometre coastline is also an important economic activity. Cottage industries which employ traditional skills in handicraft production such as batik, woodcarving and songket weaving are also evident. Logging activities are active given the vast remaining area of forest. In recent years, tourism, especially to offshore islands, has increased in importance. A few reputable hotels have been established and more modern shopping malls have been opened to cater for urban folks.

Kota Bharu, the capital, is the major urban centre, and there are also plans to open up the southern portion of the state under an ambitious multimillion-dollar development project. The main market at the city centre is a top attraction.

Kelantan has a GDP per capita in 2006 at RM7,985, which is about a fraction that of other richer states like Selangor and Penang.

Kelantan has become the first state to introduce the gold dinar and silver dirham as official currency.

Malaysian timber certification council: Kelantan logging unchecked since March 2016

The Malaysian Timber Certification Council said logging in Kelantan has not been checked since March 2016 after it suspended auditing due to failure by the state authorities and loggers to follow international standards for forest management. As a result, all logs originating from Kelantan after March were not certified under the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification that made it harder for such logs to be exported to other countries, A council spokesman reportedly said that logging activities are still considered legal even without certification as long as the state government issues a permit. The certification system is reportedly vital for due diligence in logging to minimise environmental, safety and social impacts to the forest.

The Sunday Star reported that the Lojing Highlands in Gua Musang, Kelantan, is a major disaster waiting to happen due to massive land clearing. The highlands has reportedly lost half of its forest cover, endangering the Orang Asli settlement and the rare Rafflesia flower. Lojing received media attention after a violent clash between the Orang Asli and loggers last Wednesday.

Malaysian minister denies kelantan illegal logging claim

Some 7,248 hectares of more than 600,000 hectares of permanent forest reserves in Kelantan have been illegally occupied since the 1980s, said Kelantan Forestry director Zahari Ibrahim. He said the illegally cleared forest land was now used for agriculture, including oil palm, and in some areas, developed into settlements. However, a committee on the enforcement of permanent forest reserve land under the National Forestry Act, has been formed to address the problem. Reforestation would be carried out in the illegally cleared areas and the state government had approved two companies - Gunung Basor Enterprise and Kundor Tegoh Solution Sdn Bhd - to carry out the job in areas covering 100 hectares. In other areas that were illegally cleared and used for farming purposes, he said the department would destroy the crop, as was done on a four hectare area which was planted with oil palm in Gunung Rabung, Kuala Krai, recently.

Despite heavy floods, illegal logging in Kelantan still continued

In Januariy 2016, the floods in Kampung Pasir Gajah, which forced hundreds of villagers to evacuate, did not stop a Forestry Department enforcement unit from entering a nearby forest reserve and seizing heavy machinery used by illegal loggers. The armed team members waded through chest-high floodwaters before reaching the Bukit Kambing forest reserve on Wednesday. They seized a four-wheel drive vehicle blocking the path into the illegal logging site and found an abandoned lorry, excavator and pile of logs.

Kelantan worst state for forest preservation

An environment watchdog’s field researcher claimed that Kelantan is the worst state in Malaysia in terms of forest preservation. Sahabat Alam Sekitar Malaysia (SAM) researcher, Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, claimed that a large tract of Kelantan’s permanent reserve forests had been felled to be converted into plantation forests.
He said based on state Forestry Department records, a total of 41 licences were approved for logging concessions in the permanent forest reserves in south Kelantan including Gua Musang and Lojing.
“So how can Kelantan Menteri Besar (Ahmad Yaakob) say that the granting of licences was frozen in 2006, when licences were still being granted last year?” he told reporters after the Media Khazanah Alam Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA) Forum at the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) 2015.
He said logging and deforestation were some of the contributing factors to the massive flooding which occurred in the state recently.
Meor Razak said Kelantan practises the forest plantation concept where all trees are felled and the land cleared and planted with rubber and oil palm. Such plantations are disastrous for water catchment and the ecosystem and results in flooding when it rains. But the states of Sabah and Selangor are the best in taking care of their forests with Sabah practising sustainable logging while Selangor does not allow any development in permanent forest reserves,” he added. Meanwhile, PEKA suggested the use of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) in monitoring logging activities and excessive land clearing. Its deputy president, Dr Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman, said through this approach various agencies can join forces with the Forestry Department to curb such activities. (Bernama)

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