Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 unanimously passed

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THE Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 was unanimously passed today with thumping approval on the third day of the 19th Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN).

Twenty assemblymen debated on the Bill, which was tabled by Deputy Premier cum Second Minister of Natural Resources and Urban Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and seconded by Deputy Premier Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Awang Tengah pointed out that these amendments provided a platform for green economy through a better and globally recognised forestry management practices in accordance with the environmental sustainability practices to accomplish the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“With the passing of this Bill, our forestry management will be anchored on three pillars — economic prosperity, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability in accordance with the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.

“The value of our forest resources will be enhanced with the introduction of carbon credit programmes which will attract investment in forest carbon activities.

“These will provide Sarawak and other stakeholders with additional sources of

revenue. The government will ensure that the forest carbon activity licences under the new provision comply with the international standards and relevant protocols,” he said.

Earlier, Awang Tengah said the Bill would provide for the better management of Sarawak’s forests and the natural resources in the state’s forests, in accordance with one of the strategic thrusts — environmental sustainability in the Sarawak government’s PCDS 2030 – – and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

“This Bill seeks to amend the Forests Ordinance which has been in force since June 1, 2015. The Forests Ordinance regulates the management and use of our forests and the taking, removal, export and sale of forest produce.

“On the passing of this Bill, ‘forest produce’ will include ‘carbon stocks and greenhouse gas (GHG) stocks’ produced through licensed Forest Carbon Activity undertaken in our permanent forests, in state and alienated land,” he said when tabling the Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 today. 

On the issue of enforcement, Awang Tengah said the Bill also made provisions for any person who had been arrested to be released (unless he had been remanded) but only if he provided a personal bond, with or without surety in an amount sufficient to secure his attendance, whenever required, to complete investigations by the forest officer.

“The Bill also makes provisions for the forfeiture by the state of any security furnished for the temporary release of items seized if the owner fails to surrender the items seized when required or if he fails to produce the items seized before the court, upon his conviction,” he said.

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