“Malaysia is committed to manage its forests in a sustainable manner to take full benefits of the environmental, social and economic benefits they provide,” said YB Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities during the Opening Ceremony of PEFC’s 18th General Assembly held on 13 November 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Recognizing that Asia holds the key to unlocking the production and trade of sustainable forest products, and in recognition of the growing importance of the region, PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification selected Malaysia to hold the 18th General Assembly.
“While lack of financial resources, institutional capacity and human resources often hampers the implementation of good practices in the forests, Malaysia already pledged to keep at least fifty percent of its land area under forest cover at the Earth Summit in 1992, and in 1998 established the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) to promote responsible forest management”, continued the Minister. “The Malaysian standard achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first Asian national forest certification system to achieve international recognition by PEFC, and today one third of the Permanent Reserved Forests in Malaysia is certified as sustainably managed.”
Responsible forestry is key to Malaysia’s future. The Malaysian timber industry is one of the major contributors of the country’s export earnings. In 2012, the timber sector generated almost 4.6 billion Euro of export earnings and contributed close to 2.9% of the country’s total merchandise exports. The long-term availability of timber from healthy forests is thus of strategic importance for Malaysia.
“With more than 300,000 people working in the timber industry in Malaysia, the social dimensions of sustainability are critically important to the rural development of Malaysia,” said William Street Jr., Chairman of PEFC International. “MTCC, as the first forest certification system globally that integrated social requirements in Chain of Custody certification, protecting worker’s rights along the entire supply chain, plays an important role in advancing the livelihoods of these people.”
“The Malaysian standard sets an example for appropriately balancing the different stakeholder needs and expectations in maintaining and advancing the forest resources, and serves as a model for other countries across Asia. We are looking forward to continuing our work with Malaysia, our members in China and Indonesia, and interested stakeholders in countries such as India, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to develop and promote forest certification in their respective countries and advance the sustainable forest management agenda”, Mr. Street emphasized.
The PEFC General Assembly is part of the first-ever PEFC Forest Certification Week held on 11 – 15 November, which also features the PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue on “Advancing Sustainable Timber Supply Chains in Asia” and related side events. The overwhelming response brought together diverse stakeholders across the forest sector landscape to take stock and identify opportunities to catalyse uptake of sustainable practices within the Asian region.