Forest Sustainability (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad announced their partnership to develop the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Standards Development in Malaysia. The objective of this initiative is to develop FSC- accredited National Standards for Natural Forest Certification applicable to Malaysian conditions. It specifically aims for a pragmatic and inclusive social and environmental commitment. This will eventually offer forest managers in Malaysia relevant and acceptable certification standards for sustainable forest management. This locally-adapted FSC standard will be used by certification bodies to evaluate any interested forest concessionaire in Malaysia, seeking FSC forest certification. As forest certification is voluntary and based on a market-driven approach, the existence of this standard will open more doors for Malaysian timber in the international arena while directly promoting responsible and sustainable management of the production forest. Malaysia has been among the key players in the global tropical timber trade since the 1960s and it is a major source of revenue for the country’s economy. Given the increasing demand for timber, there is also a growing concern over the sustainability within the production forests, specifically with regards to environmental and social impacts, and benefits.
In the world today, it is increasingly necessary for forest owners to be able to demonstrate well-managed forestry according to internationally accepted conditions that ensures equitable incorporation of social and environmental criteria in their management practices. By doing so, traders are then able to meet international demands and gain access to wider markets. They are also able to satisfy civil (social and environmental) society aspirations by demonstrating that indigenous rights are respected, environmental conservation values are preserved and long-term forest conservation goals are achieved. Certification also provides the financial institutions with a tool to work with forestry clients on moving forward in their credit performance and preferential treatment. Importantly, forest certification also has a wider role, to provide the public with increased awareness of issues relating to forest conservation, certified wood products and forest management in Malaysia. Mr Paul Norton, Chief Risk Officer of HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad, said: “HSBC’s support in this initiative stems from the importance that the Group places on ensuring a sustainable future – for our business, for the business of our clients in this industry as well as for the environment. HSBC Group acknowledges that the FSC certification is the preferred forest certification standards and is indeed our benchmark. HSBC also recognises that the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) and its endorsement by Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) in 2009 is indeed a significant development for local timber certification endeavour.”
“The FSC brand is recognized world-wide as a high-value, premier forest certification scheme with the highest standards. This is a brand Malaysia should not be deprived of, and this initiative is a major step towards realizing the availability of a nationally –adapted FSC certification scheme in Malaysia. The days of Malaysia exporting un-certified timber to the world are coming to an end. Malaysian timber is of high value; FSC provides a means to capitalize on this. FSC delivers,” said Mr Anthony Sebastian, Chairman of Forest Sustainability (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.