Friday, May 30, 2008


Long dry spell ahead
Forestry Director urges precautionary measures over El Nino which could hit


Sabah foresters are calling for precautionary measures to be taken in anticipation of a repeat of the 1 0-year cycle of El Nino dry spell which could hit this part of Southeast Asia. Due to the possibility of a long drawn dry spell affecting the State again, Sabah Forestry Director Datuk Sam Mannan urged the public to take steps to avoid open burning activities near forest areas and peat swamps to prevent major forest fires. He said in the six- month drought in 1983, some I mill ion hectares of forests were destroyed while some 190,000ha including 130,000 ha of permanent forest reserves were destroyed in the 1998 dry spell. “As there are signs of the El Nino cycle returning this year; we, have to take steps to ensure our forest reserves are safe by taking precautionary steps early,” he said in a statement here yesterday. According to him, activities like illegal hunting, shifting cultivation and land development near forest areas are among main factors that could trigger off forest fires during dry spells Sam also urged people living close to peat swamp reserves in Binsuluk, Kuala Abai and Klias to be extra cautious as in the event of peat fires, it would be very difficult to control and extinguish. He advised licence holders of Forest Management Units to step up patrols in high fire risk areas in their respective forest areas, ensure all fire fighting equipment are in working order and check on illegal hunters entering their forest areas. Under the Forestry Enactment those involved in burning activities that could cause a forest fire are liable to seven years jail or a fine of RM100,000 or both, he warned as he asked the people to inform the Department if they come across forest fires.