Urgent need to address logging and climate change, and develop sustainably

The Kelantan’s Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah was quoted as saying that logging was actually “good for the population of tigers” based on the argument that the emergence of new plants would lead to an increase in the animal population and become a good hunting ground for tigers.

 

The respectable officer may have his own basis for the argument, such as a 2009 paper by the WWF-Malaysia.

 

Published in ‘Oryx’, a journal of the Cambridge University Press, in which the paper states that “selectively logged forests…have the potential to accommodate a high density of tigers.”

 

We leave this point here and let the experts comment on the argument, and highlight any further development following the publication of the paper in 2009.

 

In reality, logging not only affects tigers but also other wildlife populations and the Orang Asli. Logging has also been associated with natural disasters, such as the recent flooding which has led to loss of lives and billions of losses in assets.

 

Therefore, logging issue should be evaluated in a holistic manner, considering the climate change concerns facing the world over. Moreover, logging issue is only one of the issues affecting our environment with far-reaching consequences, mainly natural disasters and livelihood of our future generations.

 

Recently, a number of non-governmental organisations have urged the government to stop logging activities for 25 years so that natural disasters like the recent severe floods do not recur.

 

Inevitably, any form of development requires exploitation of natural resources. Unfortunately, the world only has limited resources. Without a long-term outlook and plan, human could be over-exploit the environment, leading to harm to mankind as well as the planet.

 

This is a situation described in economic theory as the ‘tragedy of the commons’. Tragedy of the commons refers to a situation in which individuals with access to a shared resource act in their own interest and, in doing so, ultimately deplete the resource.

 

Deforestation and exploitation of mineral and oil and gas reserves are some of modern examples of tragedy of the commons.

 

As the threat of climate change is becoming more severe, affecting the rakyat and our future generations, it is essential that the government address the issue in a holistic manner, consistent to our commitment for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development goals (SDG). 

 

As with other nations, Malaysia  commits towards a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive development.

 

In fact, Malaysia has already established the National SDG Council at national level, chaired by the Prime Minister. The council has various working committees including one for the Environment and Natural Resources.

 

Recently in Selangor, it was announced that a special committee comprising academicians and environmental non-governmental organisations will be set up to address issues related to climate change.

 

These efforts are lauded, but inadequate to address the urgency of the issue as a matter of national importance.

 

A central body is essential to act as an overseeing and coordinating body with the authority to address climate change. A comprehensive action plan should be developed, including enacting necessary legislation, in line with the SDGs and the development goals of the nation. 

 

Such plan should recognise Malaysia’s aim to transition to high value-add, high income economy, having been in the middle-income trap for decades.

 

Sustainability of our palm oil production should be reviewed from a long term view, even though a mandatory national certification scheme for sustainable production is in place.

 

Inevitably, key question remains: how do we strike a balance between current interests and the interests of future generations? More importantly, Malaysia needs a competent leadership team with a high level of integrity to bring forth the much needed reforms.

 

Any indication of mismanagement and corruption should be addressed seriously and urgently with great fervour and determination.

 

Thus, the tragedy of the commons – the Malaysian way should be towards achieving the Agenda 2030 and the Shared Prosperity Vision, free of corruption, mismanagement and negligence.

 

Badlishah Sham Baharin, Deputy President, IKRAM

Mohammad Abdul Hamid, Public policy consultant

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