Malaysia: Gov uses promises of satellite monitoring to help greenwash gov-bribed-based illegal logging

Malaysia is zooming in on forests with a satellite in order to fight
illegal logging which its government says is harming the major timber
exporting country, a report said Sunday. Darus Ahmad, deputy
director-general with the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, said the
“eye in the sky” programme was put in place in October.

“There is
always criticisms that our forests are diminishing,” he was quoted as
saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper. Darus said that using
satellite images the authorities can establish a national forest
inventory of the country’s total area of forest cover. They can then
check whether logging in a particular area is legal or not, he said,
adding that the facility was currently available in the western
peninsular part of Malaysia only. Darus also said the system can be
used to prevent air pollution by detecting forest fires and illegal
land clearing. In the 1990s alone, Malaysia lost more than 13 percent
of its forests, with much of the deforestation on the island of
Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Brunei. The World Wildlife
Fund at the time estimated that illegally logged trees made up about
one third of Malaysia’s timber exports. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi last year pledged not to indiscriminately approve logging
licences, amid mounting concern that clearances are threatening
endangered species and tribal communities. Deputy Prime Minister Najib
Razak, who also heads the National Forestry Council, later warned that
illegal logging could undermine Malaysia. “It can jeopardise our
efforts to preserve biodiversity, flora and fauna and have an impact
on global warming. At the international level, illegal logging
portrays a negative image of our country,” he said.

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