Illegal logging in Malaysia due to gangsters
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
April 25, 2007
The Malaysian government has blamed “gangsters” for illegal logging syndicates in the country. Malaysia’s deforestation rate has leapt by 86 percent since the close of the 1990s, according to data from the U.N.
According to the International Tropical Timber Organization’s (ITTO) April 1 Tropical Timber Market Report, Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, said that the growing illegal timber trade in the Bornean state of Sarawak is due to “gangsters” who make “lucrative returns from trading in unlicensed logs in the black market.”
Chin Fah Kui said that strong demand for cheap timber is fueling the practice and that the Malaysian government would take steps to address the issue.
Environmental groups allege that Malaysian firms are actively involved in the illegal timber trade with China. Illicit timber is harvested from remote parts of Sarawak and Indonesia then smuggled to China where it is used for furniture that is often shipped to Europe and the United States.
Logging in Malaysia peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. The late 1990s saw a collapse of the logging and timber processing industries due to lack of wood.
The Malaysian government is taking steps to crack down on illegal logging. Last month Chin Fah Kui said Malaysia would promote certification schemes to ensure that timber was harvested sustainably, Last October Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Sri Najib Tun Razak announced that Malaysia will use a new remote sensing technology to detect illegal logging and forest fires in the country.