The localised standards aim to offer a holistic approach to conserve the country’s rich natural heritage while protecting the indigenous people and worker’s rights.
In March, FSC Malaysia officially launched the National Forest Stewardship Standards (NFSS). It’s the first country to have its FSC NFSS in Southeast Asia, and fourth in Asia after Nepal, China and Australia.
The NFSS is nationally adopted standards of FSC International Standards, which is regarded as the world’s most trusted forest certification scheme and has the biggest market share of certified forest products.
The standard development process takes seven years, and the Malaysian Standards Development Group (SDG) have to navigate scores of complex challenges that are deeply-rooted in the forestry governance and management in Malaysia.
As a result, 208 indicators and 634 verifiers are contained within the NFSS, which aspire to set a path for sustainable forest management in Malaysia while complementing the national and state laws.
The NFSS took seven years to develop and had gone through rounds of consultations, field testings and stakeholder engagement sessions to reach best consensus
In the launch event on 4 March, Dr Adrian Choo, Chair of the FSC Malaysia Board, stated that FSC has become more and more relevant as corporations and consumers today are becoming conscious of whether the products they purchase are from responsibly managed origins.
“Many amongst us, especially the younger generation, are born not only as digital natives, but also sustainability natives. Thankfully, certification processes like FSC assure that consumers seek, that the wood products they are purchasing are from sustainably managed forests,” said Dr Choo. “With the growing global demand for sustainable timber products, the National FSC Standard will help Malaysia tap into this growth market by utilising a globally recognised trust mark for sustainable forest management.”
Currently, there are about 755,000ha of natural forest and plantations certified by FSC in Malaysia. Eighty-three percent of them are in Sabah, comprising 11 forest reserves, while the remaining concessions are in Terengganu. The new NFSS envision to increase the market uptake because FSC certification provides greater access to markets and have been proven to have positive impacts on the environment, social development and governance.
Furthermore, with the national standards especially catering local context, it can be a powerful tool to strengthen Malaysia’s forestry sector and to demonstrate its commitments for attaining strong sustainability credentials.
“The forest industry has carried the tag of “destroyers of the forest” for far too long. Malaysia’s forest industry is not lost. Change our business model, change our forest policies, and we can again become a major player in the world. But to do that, we must stop converting our forests to other uses,” added Anthony Sebastian, FSC International Board Director, who is also the Chair of the Malaysian SDG.
The FSC NFSS in Malaysia will be effective on 4 April 2019.