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Restored Bukit Piton can be model forest reserve
Published on: Monday, December 10, 2018

Lahad Datu: The reforestation and rehabilitation of Bukit Piton Forest Reserve, previously known as Northern Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, can be made as the model forest reserve for other degraded forests in the State.

The efforts to rehabilitate the area, undertaken by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) with Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), proved that degraded forests could be rehabilitated and restored back to their ecological functions.

The Bukit Piton Forest Reserve was a vital habitat for about 250 to 300 orang-utans, said YSD Governing Council member Datuk Jeffri Salim Davidson.

He said, however, orangutan sightings in the area become rare a decade ago due to heavy degradation by previous fires and logging, prompting the YSD to enter into partnership with SFD to reforest 5,400 hectares of Bukit Piton Forest Reserve.

"Realising the dire need to rehabilitate the areas, an agreement was seated between Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and SFD to form a suitable habitat for orang-utans, committing a total of RM25 million.

"This 10-year project has successfully recorded the planting of almost 300,000 trees from 99 species that serve as food sources for the orang-utans and other wildlife in the area," he said at the ceremony to hand-over of the project.

Jeffri said the project had also faced the imminent threat of being shut down due to multiple operational challenges faced.

But it was later made possible with the combination of expertise and commitment by Sime Darby Plantation Sustainability and Quality Management (PSQM) team and SFD.

He said the project was indeed fruitful as there have been multiple sightings of a large number of 0rang-utan nests in the rehabilitated areas.

"We would like to thank all the parties involved, especially SFD that have showcased their professionalism, hard work and dedication during the project. We also thanked the Sabah State Government for their continuous support for YSD's efforts in Sabah," he said.

Jeffri disclosed that since 2009, the foundation has committed a total of RM140 million under their environment pillar, out of which RM85 million is focused on Sabah.

SFD Chief Conservator of Forest, Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini, meanwhile, said despite several challenges such as constraint capacities, particularly in the labour aspect, they also achieved several successes during the implementation of the project.

The success also included the reclassification of Bukit Piton Forest Reserve from Class II Commercial Forests to Class I Protection Forests in 2012 in which the forest reserve had acquired the Totally Protected Area (TPA) status and improved the ecological functions of the Bukit Piton Forest Reserve.

"This 10-year reforestation and rehabilitation effort has proven to be challenging. However, it has definitely provided important lessons to both the State Government and YSD in terms of implementing rehabilitation works in the most efficient way. - Eifa Rizan

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