Forest Stewardship Council in Malaysia?

I still vividly remember my first trip to Sarawak with my friends a few years ago. Our destination was a long house community deep in the forest. So we took plane to Bintulu. From there, we were on a 2-hour boat ride, followed by a ride over the hills on the 4-wheel-drive and another round of boat ride to reach that remote neighbourhood.

The sad thing about the trip was hectares of land were being deprived of it’s natural green covers even before we touched down at the Bintulu airport. The scenery on the way to the longhouse were more or less the same, barren land which is orange in colour. So the long house was not that deep in the forest after all, it was actually deep inside the vast deforested land. Forestry in Malaysia, like many other countries, is about money. Valuable timber to be harvested at all cost. Seriously lacking the attention to the other two dimensions: the environment and the people depending on the forest for livelihood.

I first heard about the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) a few years ago. Responsible management of forests on the planet is what they are preaching through a certification system that is recognised internationally to make sure companies, organisations and community dealing with the forests are using the forests without harming them. You may get more details from FSC’s web site.

From what I know, the FSC processes in Malaysia have not been smooth because there are no compromise between the companies who would like to harvest the timber, environmentalist who would like preserve the environment, and the people (mostly the indigenous people) depending on the forest for livelihood. To make things worst, there are hardly any political will to solve the issues. Conflicts appear often because the economics of the timber industry always out weight the environmental and social impacts of deforestation. I always wonder if the balance can be achieved at all?

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