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Forests play an important role in the socio-economic and industrial development of the country. It also contributes significantly in maintaining environmental stability including the protection of water resources, biological diversity and the flora and fauna. These important roles of the forest must be maintained and perpetuated not only for the benefits of the present but also for the future generations.
Since 1952, forest administration and management were guided by the Interim Forestry Policy which was adopted as the National Forestry Policy in 1978. Through the adoption of the National Forestry Policy, forestry laws were uniformised and strengthened in areas of forest management planning and forest renewal operations. Following the UNCED Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the National Forestry Policy was amended in 1993 to further enhance sustainable management of forest resources in Malaysia.
This revised of the National Forestry Policy 1978 was most welcomed for the success of Vision 2020, and for the nation's aspiration in pursuing a better living quality for the future generations.
The tropical rain forest is one of the most complex ecosystems in the world. It is a unique natural heritage which has evolved over millions of years and is the home for numerous plant and animal species. It helps to conserve wildlife, genetic resources and provide natural eco-habitats for both flora and fauna. The forest provides food and shelter for a great variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, birds and insects, many of which are indigenous only in this part of the world.
The forests play a major role in the regulation of the climatic and physical conditions of the country, safeguarding water supplies, ensuring environmental stability and minimising damage to agricultural lands.
The tropical rain forest of Malaysia is comprised of primarily the species-rich lowland and hill dipterocarp forests. The dipterocarp forests are of vital ecological and economic importance to the country. The other forest types found are the mangrove and peat swamp forests, montane oak forests and montane ericaceous forests. Apart from economically important in producing poles and charcoal, the mangrove forests situated in the coastal areas also play a vital role in the protection and conservation of the natural coastal ecosystem, fishery and other marine life. The peat swamp forests found in the inland swampy regions yield several species of high quality timber.
As a renewable resource, the tropical rain forest continues to provide vital socio-economic returns and should be conserved in order to ensure maximum and continued benefits.
In accordance with the Federal Constitution, forestry is a state matter and the State Governments have complete jurisdiction over their respective forest resources. The Federal Government provides technical advice on forest management and development, undertakes research and education, and promotes industrial development of wood-based industries and trade.
In this context, a close relationship between the State and Federal Governments is essential regarding all matters concerning forestry. The National Forestry Council (NFC) facilitates the adoption of a coordinated and common approach to forestry that includes planned, rational and effective management and utilisation of the forest resources, consistent with the need to maintain the forest as a long term renewable resource.
Forestry Legislation And Policy
The Forest Enactment and Rules for administering the forests were enacted by the Federated and Undefeated Malay States in the early thirties and were replaced by the National Forestry Act in 1984.
The Interim Forestry Policy, first formulated in 1952, was officially adopted as the National Forestry Policy in 1978 and revised in 1993.
- To conserve and manage the nation's forest based on the principles of sustainable management.
- To protect the environment as well as to conserve biological diversity, genetic resources, and to enhance research and education.
- To dedicate as Permanent Forest Estate sufficient areas strategically located throughout the country, in accordance with the concept of rational land use. The Permanent Forest Estate will be managed and classified under four major functions:
- PROTECTION FOREST for ensuring favourable climatic and physical conditions of the country, the safeguarding of water resources, soil fertility, environmental quality, preservation of biological diversity and the minimisation of damage by floods and erosion to rivers and agricultural lands.
- PRODUCTION FOREST for the supply in perpetuity, at reasonable rates of all forms of forest produce which can be economically produced within the country and are required for agricultural, domestic, industrial purposes and for export.
- AMENITY FOREST for the conservation of adequate forest areas for recreation, ecotourism and public awareness in forestry.
- RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FOREST for the conduct of research, education and conservation of biological diversity.
- To manage the Permanent Forest Estate in order to maximize social, economic and environmental benefits for the nation and its people in accordance with the principles of sustainable management.
- To implement a planned programme of forest development through forest regeneration and rehabilitation operations in accordance with appropriate silvicultural practices.
- To promote efficient harvesting and utilisation within the production forest for maximum economic benefits from all forms of forest produce and to stimulate the development of appropriate forest industries commensurate with the resource flow and to create employment opportunities.
- To promote a planned development of forest industries towards the production of more value-added finished and semi-finished products for local consumption and export.
- To encourage an aggressive bumiputra participation in the field of wood-based industry in compliance with the government policy.
- To establish forest plantations of indigenous and exotic species to supplement timber supply from the natural forest.
- To promote active local community involvement in various contracts of the forestry development projects and to maintain their involvement in agro-forestry programmes.
- To increase the production of non-wood forest products through scientific and sustainable management practices to supplement local demands and the requirements of related industries.
- To undertake and support a comprehensive programme of forestry training at all levels in the public and private sectors in order to ensure adequate supply of trained manpower to meet the requirements of forestry and wood-based industries.
- To encourage private investment in forest development through the establishment of forest plantation on private lands.
- To undertake and support intensive research programmes in forestry and forest products aimed at enhancing maximum benefits from the forest.
- To promote education in forestry and undertake publicity and extension services in order to generate better understanding among the community on the multiple values of forests.
- To provide for the preservation of biological diversity and the conservation of areas with unique species of the flora and fauna.
- To develop a comprehensive programme in community forestry to cater for the needs of the rural and urban communities.
- To set aside specific areas for the purpose of forestry education and other scientific studies.
- To foster closer international co-operation in forestry in order to benefit from the transfer of technology and exchange of scientific information.