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press release

01 April 2023

In light of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) press statement in response to the report entitled the “State of Malaysian Rainforest 2023” by RimbaWatch, Gabungan Darurat Iklim Malaysia (GDIMY) demands that federal and state governments ensure the protection of Malaysia’s existing biodiversity with CLEAR and EFFECTIVE DEFINITIONS of rainforest protection in this country.

GDIMY applauds the efforts made by NRECC to ensure rainforest protection. However, in the RimbaWatch report, we are dismayed by the lack of vigour at a federal and state level on defining what this protection is, with an unacceptable absence of commitment to preserving natural biodiversity.

GDIMY rejects the notion that reserved rainforests (existing or degraded) can be restocked, restored or substituted by timber plantations or tree farms (and these plantations are being called “forest plantations”) By doing so, we are reducing the biodiversity and ecosystem services of our forests by turning them into monoculture plantations (timber or otherwise). The rainforests in Malaysia are the result of millions of years of evolution and the best way for conservation is for authorities to ensure they are maintained as natural forest and not exploited for commercial gains.

  1. We DEMAND any activity that reduces the biodiversity and natural forest cover of existing forest reserves be put to an immediate halt.

  2. This includes, amongst others, a moratorium on new timber plantations inside forest reserves, a halt on the conversion of natural forest inside forest reserves that have already been zoned for plantation but have yet to be logged, and a moratorium on approval of environmental impact assessments for such plantations by the relevant environmental authorities.

  3. We DEMAND that the Malaysian government collate and publish cohesive, up-to- date data and statistics from all states and multi-agencies that accurately describe the condition and type of forests in relation to the protection of Malaysia’s biodiversity.

  4. We DEMAND the government commit to protecting Malaysia's unique biodiversity by declaring 55% or more of its land area as terrestrial forest reserves, and 30% of terrestrial forests gazetted as Totally Protected Areas, and 30% of marine waters as Marine Parks, while upholding Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights to own and manage the protected areas according to their Indigenous, traditional, sustainable customs and practices.

  5. We REMIND the government of its commitments under the Paris Agreement and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to preserve and enhance its natural carbon sinks, including forests. In line with this, we DEMAND that in the context of any forest cover commitments, the government must not use any false solutions, and to amend their definition of forest cover to exclude timber plantations and refer only to natural forests as per physical natural forest cover on the land, and not relying on zoning and other legal land classifications.

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