STA and NREB continue long-term partnership in ECA pilot projects

Choo (sixth left) and Peter (sixth right) exchange the MoU documents.

KUCHING: The Sarawak Timber Association (STA) and Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) have reached a significant milestone in their long-term collaboration on good environmental stewardship.

The partners inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the second batch of pilot projects for ‘Environmental Compliance Audit (ECA)’ at Wisma STA here yesterday.

The event gathered some 100 representatives of the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources, government departments and agencies including Department of Environment (DOE), Sarawak Forest Department (SFD) and Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFCSB), Harwood Timber Sdn Bhd, STA member companies, as well as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus.

Prior to the ceremony, a series of presentations were delivered by NREB officers and representatives of participating STA member companies involved in the inaugural pilot projects, which provided the attendees with some backgrounds regarding the projects, understanding on the challenges faced as well as the benefits obtained from the pilot projects.

STA chairman Pemanca Datuk Wong Kie Yik said over the years, the association had undertaken many collaborative works with forestry agencies and institutions of higher learning, not only to promote scientific and industrial research, but also to facilitate effective implementation of Sarawak’s forestry policies.

“STA has explored many ways and amplified efforts to leverage capacity within its member companies in the forestry and timber industry on the common grounds that this would achieve good environmental stewardship through self-regulation,” said Wong, whose text-of-speech was read out by STA honorary treasurer Philip Choo Kwong Hui at the event.

The ECA training course, which has been run and partially funded by STA since 2015, is among the initiatives undertaken by the association through these collaborations.

To date, four ECA training courses have been conducted exclusively for STA member companies, and benefited 89 representatives of Sarawak’s forestry and timber industry.

In addition, the training on Environmental Quality Monitoring (EQM) kicked off this year to further equip the industry with the necessary knowledge and skills to propel it towards self-regulation.

Forty-four representatives have been trained by trainers with specialty in the field of water-sampling and analysis.

It is learnt that the third training is scheduled this Dec 6 and 7 in Sibu and so far, it has registered 26 representatives.

Meanwhile, the MoU yesterday was signed between three parties — STA, NREB and the representation of seven participating member companies of STA.

These companies are Jutakayu Sdn Bhd, Kastima Trading Sdn Bhd, Limba Jaya Timber Sdn Bhd, Polima Forest Bintulu Sdn Bhd, Raplex Sdn Bhd, Shin Yang Trading Sdn Bhd and Zedtee Sdn Bhd.

Under the second MoU, the pilot projects would adopt the same processes adhered to by parties in the inaugural pilot projects, which were launched in November last year – with the voluntary participation from eight participating member companies in the forestry and timber industry.

Meanwhile in his remarks, NREB Sarawak controller (environmental quality) Peter Sawal said the board would want to extend the ECA to the plantation industry.

He pointed out that with environment being among the ‘three pillars of sustainable forest management practices’, the pilot projects should prove useful in preparing the forestry and timber industry for Forest Management Certification (FMC).

Peter also commended STA for continuing to provide assistance to the forestry and timber industry to ensure that the products from Sarawak would be acceptable to the global market.

In a released statement, STA expressed its hope that more forestry agencies could draw on examples from the pilot projects and engage collaboratively with STA in activities to address common goals, as well as effective and efficient implementation of policies.