Opening by DG Forestry on Closing APFP







Bless and peace upon Prophet Muhammad.

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Salam Sejahtera,

Salam Satu Malaysia, and

Salam Satu NRE

Terima kasih Saudari Pengacara Majlis

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sri Zoal Azha bin Yusof

Secretary General, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr. Che Abdul Rahim bin Haji Nik

Deputy Secretary General (Environmental)

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Mr. Faizal Parish

Director of Global Environment Centre, and the

Project Technical Advisor of the ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP)

State Forestry Directors

Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, Division Directors

Head of Federal and States Departments, and

Distinguished Guests,

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan

On behalf of Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, firstly lets us express our sincere gratitude to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala for His grace and blessings for us to gather in this ASEAN Peatland Forests Project Closing Seminar.

My sincere appreciation to the secretariat of the seminar for inviting me, thus giving me this precious opportunity to make the opening remark. I am glad to acknowledge that this seminar is jointly organised by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Nature Society. This seminar enables us to share the knowledge and experiences in the matter of managing and developing our precious peatlands in Malaysia together with the participating stakeholders under the APFP smart partnership programme.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

Peatlands as we know it have many benefits and maintaining them for such ends may far exceed any economic returns from land conversion activities. Peatlands areas play vital roles to regulate flood, preventing intrusion of saline waters, maintaining biological diversity of flora and fauna, providing livelihood for rural community, including acting as important carbon sink.

Unfortunately, since the past 20 years, part of the peatlands areas was converted to other land use. These activities are often linked to the lowering of the ground water, resulting in peat subsidence, and these areas eventually becoming more susceptible to wild fires - thus contributing to climate change. On the latter issue, I think everyone here can still remember what happened in 1997-1998, when we experienced regional wide haze problem mainly caused by wild fires in peatlands.

In Malaysia, peatlands and peatswamp forests are the most important of wetland types accounting for about 70% of the total wetland areas. As the trend elsewhere, rapid development and mounting population pressures on the natural resources have placed these areas under increasing threat. The major challenge is addressing the growing demand for conversion of peatswamp forests to other land uses.

Peatswamp forest in Malaysia cover an estimated 1.54 million hectares with more than 70 per cent in Sarawak, less than 20 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia and the remainder in Sabah. For the states in Peninsular Malaysia, peatswamp forests are found in 5 states - Selangor, Johor, Perak, Pahang and Terengganu; with 67 per cent of the existing peatswamp forests are located within the Permanent Reserved Forests (PRFs) with the remainder in Stateland Forests. It is within the Stateland Forests that all the conversion of peatswamp forests currently takes place.

Major threats to the conservation and sustainability of the peatswamp forests have been a focus of the Malaysian Government since 15-years ago. For your information, two internationally funded projects - the DANCED (Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development) Project (1996-2000) and later the UNDP-GEF (2002-2007) have facilitated the State Governments of Selangor, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak in developing Integrated Management Plans (IMPs) specific for the peatswamp forests.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

Based on the peatlands forest fire incident and the air pollution caused by a serious ASEAN transboundary haze pollution in 1997-98, ASEAN Member States had developed the ASEAN Peatlands Management Strategy (2006-2020) with the objective to conserve, manage and sustainable use of peatlands. A project known as Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatlands in Southeast Asia or ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP) was conceptualised.

The APFP is fully sponsored by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) / Global Environment Facility (GEF) with fund amounting to USD880,000 for a period of 2010-2014. This project is administered by ASEAN Secretariat with technical assistant from Global Environment Centre (GEC) as the Regional Project Executing Agency. Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia was appointed as the National Project Executing Agency for APFP Malaysian component.

The main objective of APFP is to enhance conservation and sustainable management of peatlands in Malaysia especially in the pilot site at North Selangor Peatswamp Forest through the increase of the capacity, monitoring and prevention of peat fire and the establishment of demo plots. Three demo sites were established in South East Pahang Peatswamp Forest in Pahang, Loagan Bunut National Park in Sarawak and Klias Forest Reserve in Sabah. ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP) came into operation in Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Philippines since 2010 and will be end in 2014.

Special committees were established at Federal level to monitor and oversee the implementation of the project such as National Peatlands Steering chaired by Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sri Secretary General of NRE and National Peatlands Working Committee chaired by myself. I would like to congratulate Selangor State for having the same mechanism by establishing Selangor State Peatlands Steering and Working Committee. If it is permissible, I would like to urge each state having major and significant peatland areas to adopt similar mechanism to control, monitor and sustainably manage the peatlands.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

In the effort to achieve the ASEAN Peatlands Management Strategy (APMS), Malaysia had developed and rectified the National Action Plan for Peatlands in 2011. The plan have been implemented by various stakeholders and its progress is monitored by NRE.

For your information the Selangor State Action Plan for Peatlands was developed by FRIM by using the existing template as reference. In my opinion, every states that had the Integrated Management Plan under the UNDP-GEF project such as Pahang, Sarawak and Sabah to make an effort to prepare their very own State Action Plan for Peatlands to meet the requirements in managing and developing their peatlands.

Based on the experience from APFP, Good Water Management is critical to control peat fire incidenses and peat subsidences to reduce the CO2 emission by maintaning optimal water level in the field between 50-60 cm from the peat surface. Concerted efforts to construct more tube well to tap ground-water and check-dam/canal blocking to increase the water level is needed to suppress and control peat fire incidences. These infrastructures maybe costly but it is the best choice to assist in any peat firefighting operation during the drought season.

For your information, Department of Environment as the focal point for peatswamp forest fire management in the country had spent RM12 million between 2009-2013 for the construction of 135 units of check dams by Department of Irrigation and Drainage, 40 units tube well by Department of Minerals and Geoscience and 3 units of watch tower by FDPM. Based on the Malaysian Government concern regarding the issue related to peat fire, special allocation worth RM15 million was allocated to DOE for the year 2014-2015. I believe the investment is more cost-effective compared to the real cost spent in annual peat firefighting by Fire and Rescue Department, Forestry Departments and other agencies.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

In every peatlands forest fire occurances, forest land will cause environmental degradation, lost of invaluable biodiversity and economic resources. Hence, I recommend treatments for degraded forest areas to prevent further deterioration such as soil erosion and invasive plant colonisation.

However, limited annual allocation for the departments and agencies induce conservation programme fail to achieve its targets. Maybe its time for us to engage with multi-national plantation companies in conservation programmes for degraded peatswamp forest area. Based on current awareness trend among multi-national companies towards environmental considerations particularly under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), this conservation efforts shall be increased.

Malaysia has been given the task to improve the existing Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) and thru Malaysia Meteorology Department had successfully developed FDRS to warn early fire detection in peatswamps forest which can lead to transboundary haze pollution. Congrats to MMD for pioneered this system specifically development of SEA FDRS in Google Earth.

New technology developments shall be promoted to strengthen the peatland fire detection in the field. Currently, under APFP smart partnership JPSM-UPM activities, we have successfully established a new prototype called PeatWatch system, considered pioneer in ASEAN, to monitor the early peatland fire occurance using Google Earth/Map. This system designed for fast reporting using smartphones with detailed information such as location by longitude and lattitude data incorporating GIS maps, fire extent, hot spots and wind speed data.

We have achieved 11 outputs under APFP smart partnership as model or guideline for ASEAN countries. The outputs are as follows:

Revised Guidelines for Design and Construction of Check Dams for Prevention and Control of Peatland Fire by DID;

Peatland Profile for Malaysia by Faculty of Forestry, UPM;

Peatwatch System by Faculty of Forestry, UPM;

Fire and Danger Rating System by MMD;

North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest Scientific and Bio-D Expedition by MNS;

Selangor State Action Plan for Peatlands by FRIM;

Best Management Practices in Peatland of Malaysia by FRIM;

Manual On Degraded Peatswamp Forest Rehabilitation Techniques by FRIM;

Assessment of Aboveground Carbon Stock Changes in APFP Pilot Site by FRIM;

Report on Blueprint For Kuala Langat South Forest Reserve by FRIM; and

Integrated Management Plan for North Selangor Peatswamp Forest (2014 – 2023) by GEC.  

My sincere thanks and gratitude to all agencies involved in APFP smart partnership for their contributions in achieving these targets.

Establishment of North Selangor Friends of Peatlands under Registrar of Society in August 2012 shows the commitment of local communities living adjacent to North Selangor Peatswamp forest in peatland forest management and development. These local communities engagement in peatland forest fire monitoring and suppression activities, tree planting and awareness programmes had produce a team for helping the Government in conserving, manage and sustainable use of peatland resources.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

The first phase of APFP (2010-2014) will finish this year. This project will be continued under the second phase of APFP (2014-2020) named ASEAN Sustainable Management of Peatlands Ecosystem are parallel with National Action Plan for Peatlands (2011-2020).

Last but not least, we are grateful to have enjoyed the consistent support of the stakeholders particularly at the national and state level during 5 years of project implementation. Therefore, on behalf of FDPM as the implementing agency, I would like to express our appreciation to the donors and NRE for entrusting us with the task of implementing this project.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a fruitful discussion in this seminar. Please share with us your experience as well and I sincerely hope that this seminar will be of great benefits to all of us for our future undertaking.

Thank you very much.


Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh



Date: 23 June 2014

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