Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) officially launched its Forest Watch Project, calling upon the public to become the eyes and ears of the forest in fighting illegal forest activities. This project is part of its Forest Governance Integrity (FGI) Programme to enhance forest governance through public participation.
The public can assist stakeholders and agencies to conduct regular monitoring of forest cover and to spot irregularities or suspicious activities by using technology such as satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe to capture aerial images of our forests.
The Forest Watch Project provides a reporting mechanism whereby the information supplied by the public will be forwarded directly to the relevant authorities responsible for forest governance in Malaysia, namely the Forestry Department, Institute of Foresters Malaysia (IRIM) and Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).
Individuals or parties who wish to take part in saving our forests can visit the Forest Watch Project website, www.timalaysia-forestwatch.org.my, officially launched by YBhg Dato’ Dr. Hj. Abd Rahman Bin Hj. Abd Rahim, Director General, Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia on behalf of YBhg Dato’ Sri Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister Of Natural, Resources & Environment, Malaysia.
“The main reason for illegal logging despite stringent enforcement is the high demand for timber and shortage in the supply of logs from Permanent Reserved Forest and State Land as well as the existence of illegal wood-based mills still in operation,” said YBhg Dato’ Dr. Hj. Abd Rahman during the launch.
“Our success in combating illegal logging is very much attributed to the strong cooperation and support from the relevant stakeholders and the state governments. The public including the NGOs have been the good “eyes and ears” in our effort to combat this crime,” he added.
“We hope through this direct engagement model, the Forest Watch Project will serve its purpose – to immediately act on enforceable information and nip the problem in the bud – thus minimising corruption. We want to stop illegal forest activities before it’s too late and to do this, we need the public’s strong involvement as guardians of the forest,” said YBhg Dato’ Paul Low Seng Kuan, President of Transparency International-Malaysia.
“The project will also enhance better governance and enforcement of forested areas while promoting anti corruption measures,” he added.
The daylong event featured an array of activities to the public, including talks by:
• The State of Our Forest by YBhg Dato’ Dr. Hj. Abd Rahman Bin Hj. Abd Rahim, Director General, Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia
• Enforcement in Anti Corruptions Works by YBhg. Datuk Hj Mustafar b. Hj Ali, Director of Malaysian Anti Corruption Academy, Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission
• Forest Watch Project – An Effort to Enhance Forest Governance, Conservation and Sustainability by YBhg. Prof. Datuk Haji Mohamad Ali Hasan, Deputy President of Transparency International – Malaysia
• Protecting Forests in Selangor: Challenges and Opportunities by YB Elizabeth Wong, EXCO for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment Selangor State Government
• Can Green Economy & Technology Resolve the Conflicts Between Environment & Economy in Malaysia? by Mr. Gurmit Singh, Chairperson of Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM)
• Citizen Conservation for Wildlife and Forests by Dr. Kae Kawanishi, General Manager of Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT)
Attendees also witnessed a demonstration and hands-on training on the Introduction to Forest Monitoring Using Geospatial Technology. In addition, a ‘Children and Forest’ Drawing and Coloring Contest, open for those between ages 5 and 12 was held to expose and educate our young on the importance of conserving our forests. Participants also enjoyed a performance by local R&B singer, Ferhad.
About Forest Watch Project
The Forest Watch Project involves the application of geospatial technology (primarily using Google Earth) to monitor and asses changes to our forest cover through the dedicated website www.timalaysia-forestwatch.org.my. This project engages directly with the public and will place emphasis on developing environmental NGO’s and independent monitors.