Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad has declared the Merbau tree as the country's national tree in Kuala Lumpur today, 23 August
According to The Star Online, Mahathir officiated the 'Hujan Kita: Journey Through Our Rainforest' exhibition on Malaysian rainforests at the Kuala Lumpur Tower.
"With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol of national pride," the prime minister said.
The exhibition was also attended by various ministers including Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
Mahathir shared that "Hujan Kita" which means "Our Forests", is a powerful affirmation that the rainforest belongs to the country
"I hereby reaffirm Malaysia's commitment to maintain at least 50 per cent of our land area under forest cover in accordance with our commitment made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992," the prime minister was saying as quoted by Malay Mail.
"I am indeed confident that the ‘Hutan Kita’ Exhibition will be a catalyst in increasing awareness among us with regards to our forest. It is our forest and therefore we are responsible for it," Mahathir added.
"Further to that, it is also a declaration that it is something shared, meaning that protecting and conserving the forest is not only for ourselves and the present generation, but for that of future generations," he said.
The prime minister also stressed that sustainable forest management should be practiced to ensure that is does not cause environmental degradation
According to Mahathir, the palm oil industry has negatively affected the rainforest ecosystem and the country's ability to improve the socio-economic well-being of its population.
"The government will outline eight key actions that will be implemented to enhance Malaysia's efforts in sustainable forest management and mainstreaming biodiversity in Malaysia's socio-economic development agenda in the era of post-2020.
"On the global front, as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, Malaysia takes its commitment to conservation seriously and is proud to be a signatory to an extensive list of global treaties on conservation, wildlife, forestry and the environment," Mahathir said.
The exhibition will be held at Kuala Lumpur Tower from 9am until 6pm on 24 August until 22 September. Admission is free of charge.