Light aircraft to be used to curb illegal logging


PUTRAJAYA: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is in the process of buying a light aircraft which will be used to monitor and curb illegal logging in Sarawak.

Its minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the application to purchase the RM30 million aircraft had been submitted to the Finance Ministry.

He added that although logging activities in Sarawak came under the jurisdiction of the state government, his ministry had recently agreed to purchase the aircraft so as to curb illegal logging.

“We are not using drones as the areas where they can be used are limited and Sarawak is a very big state,” he told the media after chairing a meeting with oil palm factory owners and associations here today.

He said the amount lost to timber thefts in the state amounted to hundreds of millions of ringgit and the purchase of the aircraft was justified to curb the illegal activities.

He added that once the aircraft was purchased, it would be stationed in Kuching, Sarawak, and maintained by the state government and aviation service company Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd.

“If the aircraft is needed in Peninsular Malaysia, it could be flown from Sarawak,” he said.

On the palm oil industry, he said the ministry had agreed with the owners of palm oil factories and associations to organise talks on waste management.

He said although the palm oil industry has been recognised as a National Key Economic Area, the activities of its factories, if uncontrolled, could contribute to environmental pollution.

Wan Junaidi added that according to records, 41 complaints of water pollution from palm oil factories were made in 2015 compared to 15 in 2014.

“As of June 2016, court action has been taken in 40 cases against oil palm factories compared to 82 in 2015,” he said.