For 30 years, the permit holders have been extracting timber around the Balui River but now the government is more concerned about pollution and the views of its people.
KUCHING: It is unlikely that Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg will renew five timber concessions around the Balui River which expire at the end of this year.
This is because Abang Johari had earlier announced he would be continuing with the policies of the late chief minister Adenan Satem regarding timber concessions.
In 2015, Adenan had said he would stop giving out timber concessions, adding: “Enough with this broad daylight robbery of our timber. I will not tolerate it.”
Abang Johari had also said operating licences would not be renewed unless the land involved had been approved for development purposes.
State Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad told The Borneo Post it was up to Abang Johari whether to renew the five timber concession licences.
These licences had allowed the companies concerned to fell trees legally within their concession areas for the last 30 years.
However, The Borneo Post quoted Sapuan as saying that as far as he knew, there would be no renewal upon expiry as the chief minister had stressed that the ban on the issuance of timber concessions was here to stay.
“The Forestry Department will follow the instruction of the new chief minister. There will be no more renewal (of timber concessions) upon expiry unless the area has been earmarked for development,” Sapuan was quoted as saying.
Sapuan said “development” in this context meant agricultural activities such as the planting of “gaharu”, rubber and fruit trees as well as any crop that would not pollute the land.
He said the planting of oil palm would likely not be allowed around Balui River as it would cause pollution, especially in the catchment area. Also terracing (creating terraces to plant oil palm) would cause a lot of siltation, which might cut short the lifespan of the turbines at the Bakun Dam.
He said he would recommend to the government not to allow the building of an oil palm mill in the area, according to The Borneo Post report.