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FMT News: RM60 mil for environment protection good but give us details, say groups

PETALING JAYA: Environmentalists have welcomed the additional allocation of RM60 million to states to protect their marine and forestry resources.

However, they want specifics.

Andrew Sebastian, CEO of Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia (EcoMy) said it was a good move.

“But we would like to see the details in terms of how it is going to be dispersed and how it is going to be used,” Sebastian told FMT.

“We await details from the government and further engagements with stakeholders, local communities and NGOs to see how we can move forward.”

He said the main priority should be enforcing and monitoring natural resources, tackling poaching and better management of crucial ecosystems.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad last month announced the allocations after chairing a meeting of the National Finance Council.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) Malaysia president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said the allocation showed the government’s commitment towards tackling uncontrolled deforestation and extinction of marine species.

“Only one question,” she said. “Will this RM60 million be enough?”

Shariffa claimed that certain states were largely dependent on their natural resources as a source of income.

She said Putrajaya’s plans to better equip state governments to protect their natural resources would be futile unless these states stopped relying on their natural resources for income.

Otherwise, it made no sense to provide them with the extra allocation.

“As long as policies do not change, deforestation will never end,” she said.

Shariffa also told FMT that Putrajaya must come up with an act specifically on forest and marine protection.

She said illegal logging and deforestation should carry heavy punishments and fines to deter people from carrying out such activities.

She said there should be stricter guidelines in place for logging licences.

“This will help the government, its Forestry Department, in particular, to manage and take of forests and other ecosystems in a more systematic and efficient way.

“It is not just to see these resources as having economic value but to safeguard the stability of the environment in line with the concept of long-lasting forest management,” she said.

Another environmentalist asked if the RM60 million allocation was a one-off payment or annual payment.

If it was the latter, she asked whether the amount would increase over the years.

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