2018 Freezailah Forest Sustainability Award winner Hoo Pui Kiat (second from right) receiving his prize from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Faculty of Science and Natural Resources dean Professor Dr Baba Musta. With them are UMS vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr D. Kamaruddin D. Mudin (second from left) and MTCC chief executive officer Yong Teng Koon (right).

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student Hoo Pui Kiat was the winner of this year’s Freezailah Forest Sustainability award for his research into human-modified land use that negatively affects forests.

His thesis, entitled “Comparison of tree diversity and species composition across a multi-land use and tree diversity-carbon relationship in GOM-UNDP-GEF Project, Luasong, Sabah”, found that sustainable land management is crucial in preventing irreversible effects on tree diversity, species composition and carbon stock of forests.

The award is presented to graduates with good academic results and who produced a thesis that meets the prescribed quality and study scope.

“I am very happy to win the award. it is a great honour and will definitely motivate me to promote forest sustainability in Malaysia.

I hope all Malaysians will do likewise as our country’s forests are crucial to our lives and wellbeing,” said Hoo after receiving his award at the 20th UMS convocation.

His prize consists of RM2,000 and a certificate of achievement from the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC).

The award — presented since 2016 as an effort to inculcate a love for forests among university students — is a collaboration between MTCC and UMS’ Faculty of Science and natural Resources.

MTCC chief executive officer Yong Teng Koon said the Freezailah Forest Sustainability award, named after MTCC founder and chairman Datuk Dr Freezailah Che Yeom, aimed to recognise the achievements of outstanding students and spur others towards academic excellence.

“The future of sustainability lies in the hands of our future generation. in this regard, we must do our part in engaging and grooming our next generation so they can see and embrace our vision for full implementation of a sustainable forest management in Malaysia.

“Engaging them in university, while they are young and eager to learn, and promoting academic excellence and creating awareness about their shared responsibility in this endeavour are definitely significant steps in the right direction,” Yong said.

Established in 1998, MTCC is an independent organisation tasked with developing and operating the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme.

It provides independent assessment of forest management practices and audits timber products to ascertain that they are made from a sustainable source.