Mr. J.P. Mead became the first Conservator of Forests, Sarawak Forest Department, in 1919. The objectives of the Department were to manage and conserve the State's forest resources.
With only a handful of staff then, the Department has developed into an organization with a staff of about two thousand.
The initial responsibility of the Forest Department included the constitution of the Permanent Forest Estate and the regulation of the taking of forest produce. Responsibilities have widened and new branches and units have evolved to include resource planning, economics, forest engineering, forest and forest product research, national parks and wild life conservation, law enforcementand preventive work.
The Forest Department, being a technical and scientific department, is concerned with forest management, forest protection, the efficient and effective utilization of the forest resources and the preservation and conservation of the flora and fauna in the State. Based on a forest policy adopted in 1954, the Forest Department mapped out a number of strategies for sustainable forest management and forest conservation. The major strategies include:
- enlarging the Permanent Forest Estate
- enforcing the Forests Ordinance 1958 (Cap. 126), the National Parks and Nature Reserve Ordinance 1998, and the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998
- harvesting forests selectively
- practising multiple-use forestry
- undertaking applied research in silviculture, ecology and forest operations
- establishing more national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, and undertaking a detailed resource inventory of these areas
- developing the infrastructure and recreational facilities in national parks and nature reserves to boost their tourism potential
- conducting long-term research on protected wildlife species, conservation management of hunted species and habitat management
- conducting research to improve the utilization of timber