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Let future generations of Sabahans inherit a rich forest
Published on: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government is serious about conservation, having proven this intention with the phasing out of logging at the sensitive conservation areas of Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves in 2007. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman (pic) said his determination to ensure that Sabah retains its rainforest identity when other places are fast losing theirs has been questioned by some who do not see the value these treasures bring in terms of tourism revenue and biodiversity, among others.

"They ask me why are you planting all these trees that may take 40 years to mature.

I said it is for the future generations. Let them inherit a rich forest.

"It was one of the milestones in Sabah's conservation effort when Sabah resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest Orang Utan population as well as a diversity of other wildlife in Sabah, at the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

"To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June of 2006, I, at a press conference announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang by 2007.

"The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state," he said at the Inaugural Rotary Lecture at Shangril-la Tanjung Aru Resort on Sunday.

He recalled some quarters even accusing him of "polishing Pak Lah's (Tun Abdullah's) boots who is known to be a nature lover'.

"Lo and behold, logging was eventually phased out in those areas. The move led to 240,000 hectares to be placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orang utans that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity," he said.

At the same time, he said efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas that are not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas are protected for their many benefits, included as watersheds, he said.

"Through Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), 53 per cent of Sabah or 3.9 million hectares of State land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

"The State Government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass or 2.2 million hectares as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next five years, if not earlier.

He said through these measures, Sabah has also exceeded the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) target of only 10 per cent.

Musa said it must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted well over 600,000 hectares of forests, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

He said the Sabah Government has and will continue to promote Sabah as the hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations such as The Royal Society of the United Kingdom, The Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas as well as key local higher learning institutions.

"All of them are helping to grow our forests with the right species. We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

"It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation," he said, to applause.



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