Malaysia agrees to meet sustainable timber requirements
Malaysian timber will meet the sustainability requirements set by the Netherlands, so that it may be confidently purchased by the Dutch government. These requirements include taking into account the needs of the local population and protecting forests from conversion to other land uses. This was the result of discussions between the Minister of Agriculture Sharon Dijksma, who is responsible for international forest policy and sustainable forest management, and the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Douglas Uggah Embas. The Netherlands had earlier expressed concerns about recognising the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).
Sustainable forest management
“I had a productive meeting with the Malaysian minister, in which it was stated that sustainable forest management is an important condition for us to purchase certified timber”, Minister Dijksma said. “We only want legally logged timber and we want to be sure that the local population can continue to make use of natural resources. Malaysia has agreed to comply with this and to further tighten guidelines in this respect."
Involved and open
The Netherlands wants the indigenous population to be involved with the management of the areas that are important to them, and for people to continue to be involved in the small-scale maintenance of these areas. Natural forests must also be protected form conversion to other land uses, such as palm oil plantations. To facilitate this, greater public availability of maps of forest land areas is required . The production of MTCS-certified timber will take this better into account. The Malaysian minister also pledged to publish progress reports. The Netherlands will be informed about Malaysian activities already before the debate on forest management in December.
Agreements to combat illegal logging
At the same time, the European Union is in negotiations with Malaysia to reach binding agreements about forest management, good governance and law enforcement. The Netherlands encouraged Malaysia to initiate these negotiations several years ago, and provided support in the form of knowledge, staff and financial resources. The negotiations are taking place in the framework of the EU FLEGT Action plan. FLEGT stands for “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” and aims to combat the trade in illegally logged timber. The intention is to ultimately arrive at a trade agreement whereby the EU and Malaysia agree that Malaysia will only export demonstrably legal timber to the EU. Involving stakeholders in forest management is key for arriving at this agreement, which is expected to be finalised next year.