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(File pix) There has been 154 cases of illegal logging in Sarawak to date. The Sarawak Forest Department will intensify air surveillence efforts with the use of drone beginning next year. Pix by Mohd Syafiq Ambak

MIRI: The Sarawak Forestry Department will intensify its air surveillance on forests in the state with the use of drones beginning next year.

Its director Sapuan Ahmad said the procurement of the drones was approved by the Federal Government under the 11th Malaysia Plan, which was rolled out for implementation in May this year.

“I am happy to announce that our request to purchase the drones have been approved and this will enable us to conduct greater air surveillance on forests in Sarawak,” said Sapuan in his speech during the department’s Excellence Services Award Ceremony last night.

Present were Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem and State Second Resources Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan. Also in attendance was Adenan’s wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu.

During the dinner, Sapuan explained that air surveillance was among the actions taken by the department to strengthen its enforcement to stamp out illegal logging in the state.

“The flying squad has been most effective for monitoring the forest and detecting illegal logging.

“This year, the department will conduct more patrolling with helicopters, flying all around the corners to detect illegal logging activities.

“To enhance our enforcement capability, we are utilising the advance technology such as Hyperspectral System and Compact Airborne Tactical System,” said Sapuan.

To date, the department had investigated 154 cases involving 37,00 cubic metres of seized logs worth more than RM11 million.

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