MTCC’s Reply To ‘The Star’ Article Rewriting The Rules – Forestry Guidelines

The Editor,
Star Two,
The Star
Menara Star,
15 Jalan 16/11,
46350 Petaling Jaya.

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to the article on Rewriting the rules – Forestry guidelines by Natalie Heng that appeared in the Star 2 on 1 November 2011. The article unfortunately did not present the correct information regarding the cooperation between the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) during the initial phase of MTCC’s operations in 1999. MTCC regrets that The Star has once again deemed it unnecessary to hear our side of the story.

In view of this, I would be grateful if you will allow MTCC the opportunity to set the record straight with regard to the MTCC-FSC cooperation. MTCC would just like to make the following points:

1. The main aims of the cooperation was the development of a forest management certification standard for the scheme operated by the MTCC (now known as the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme or MTCS) that could be recognised by the FSC, and for the MTCS to be endorsed by the FSC;

2. These two objectives were later found to be not achievable due to the following reasons:

i.  The lack of ‘fit’ between the institutional arrangements of the MTCS and the FSC scheme, as MTCC was established to be a governing body while the FSC set-up required MTCC to be a certification body which would need to become accredited to the FSC; and

ii.  FSC operates using three main stakeholder groups or ‘chambers’ (social, environment and economic), while in the Malaysian context of forest management, some of the stakeholders felt that there was  a need for a fourth stakeholder group to cater for the forest managers, who manage the publicly-owned forests in Malaysia, and cannot fit in neatly with the other three stakeholder groups.

3. The work of the multi-stakeholder National Steering Committee (NSC), which was formed as part of the cooperation efforts, nevertheless led to the formulation of two forest management certification standards, i.e. the MC&I(2002) for natural forests, and MC&I(Forest Plantations) for forest plantations which were subsequently adopted to be used under the MTCS. It is important to note that the principles and criteria contained in the MC&I(2002) are exactly the same as the FSC principles and criteria, while the principles and criteria in the MC&I(Forest Plantations) are to a large extent the same as those of the FSC, but incorporate some changes taking into account the local conditions in Malaysia;

4. It was in fact the work put in by the NSC, in which MTCC served as the secretariat, which laid the groundwork towards a renewed effort to formulate a FSC forest management standard for Malaysia. The present activities of Forest Sustainability Malaysia, as reported in the article, can be traced back to  these early efforts under the NSC;

5. The lack of fit between MTCC and FSC led MTCC to become a member of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) in 2002. In May 2009, the MTCS became an endorsed scheme under the PEFC, which is the world’s largest forest certification programme; and

6. MTCC has been able to achieve this because under the PEFC, MTCC can play its intended role as the national governing body. The independent certification bodies which conduct audits and make the decision to award certificates to the applicants are mainly locally based companies, while accreditation within Malaysia is carried out by our national accreditation body, the Department of Standards Malaysia (now known as STANDARDS MALAYSIA).

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Chew Lye Teng,
Chief Executive Officer,
Malaysian Timber Certification Council

The original letter can be obtained from the following link: to Rewriting the rules – Forestry guidelines _STAR article_.pdf