Malaysia: Eye in the sky against logging

The Star 16 Aug 16;

PUTRAJAYA: A RM30mil light aircraft will be used to monitor illegal logging activities in Sarawak.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said his ministry had agreed to acquire the aircraft and had proposed the matter to the Finance Ministry.

Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the aircraft had advantages over drones which were operated by remote control.

“A drone can be used but it’s range is very limited.

“This light aircraft flies further and quietly and is manned.

“The cost is about RM30mil, but the amount that we lose due to illegal logging is much higher than this,” said Dr Wan Junaidi after chairing a session with palm oil mill owners.

The minister said although the state government, under chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s leadership, had gone all out to eradicate illegal logging, the illegal loggers continued to find different ways to avoid capture.

“These illegal loggers regularly change their modus operandi. They no longer transport the logs using lorries but float them on rivers and collect them once the logs reach the river mouths,” he said.

While the aircraft would be based in Kuching, the minister said it could also be used for surveillance in other states besides Sarawak, if necessary.

On the engagement with palm oil industry players, Dr Wan Junaidi said they were reminded to apply the best practices in milling to reduce pollution.

“The palm oil industry generates about RM65bil for the country a year and it remains a very relevant industry.

“However, the environment must be protected and I have reminded palm oil mill owners to use current technology and apply the best practices.

“The ministry will organise a workshop for palm oil mill owners soon, and we will also discuss regulatory measures that can be imposed in our aim to reduce pollution,” he said.

Dr Wan Junaidi also said some 320 palm oil mill workers had received “competent person” certification from the Department of Environment so far.

“Palm oil mills should have at least one “competent person” in charge of environmental care,” he said.