Malaysia: Drones aid in illegal logging monitoring

New Straits Times 2 Nov 16;

DUNGUN: The Forestry Department’s quick action has prevented the removal of an excavator from an illegal logging site in the Bukit Bauk Forest Reserve near Kampung Serdang here.

Two men allegedly trying to remove the evidence of illegal logging were also detained.

Operating using drones, the enforcement unit had monitored illegal logging activities for nearly a week and decided to lay an ambush near the site on Monday to prevent workers from escaping and removing the logs and equipment. “We received a tip-off on the illegal logging in the Bukit Bauk Forest Reserve, which is rich with camphor, keriung and meranti trees.

“My men surveyed the site with drones and succeeded in locating the area,” state Forestry Department director Datuk Ahmad Fadzil Abdul Majid told the New Straits Times yesterday.

He said drones were used to identify possible escape routes and the extent of damage done in the forest reserve.

“My men, who were backed up by police, entered the area at 3am and detained two workers in their mid-20s, who were about to remove an excavator from the area.

“They also seized a lorry, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and 400 tonnes of logs.

“The suspects will be charged under Section 15 of the National Forestry Act 1984, which carries a fine of not more than RM500,000 or 20 years’ jail, or both.

We are processing the investigation papers.” Fadzil said the department had used drones to collect information before laying an ambush to ensure workers entering the forest reserve could not be warned by tontos (thugs or informants hired by lawbreakers).

“This method has been proven to be the most effective. “We can use drones to capture images of the areas that have been encroached on, and conduct a general audit on the number of trees that have been felled and estimate the tonnage.

“We will continue with our operation to check illegal logging in other districts during the monsoon season.

“This is the time when illegal loggers may take advantage of the rain and floods to remove trees felled in forest reserves.”

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