Friday, May 23, 2008



About RM100 million will be spent for forest reserve restoration projects within Ulu Segama and Malua Forest Reserves over the next decade, said Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan. He said the funds would come from the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah) and local and international corporate bodies and organisations. Of the total amount, RM25 million will be given by Sime Darby while another RM3O million is from New Forest (an organisation from the United States of America). The Sabah Foundation had set aside RM2 million annually for the restoration projects, Sam told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (M0U) between the Sabah Government and WWF-Malaysia on forest restoration in north Ulu Segama of the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve. The MoU is for the reforestation of 55,000 hectares of degraded forest within northern Ulu Segama through a RM17O,000 donation by Marks & Spencer of the United Kingdom. The State Forestry Department was represented at the signing by Sam while WWF-Malaysia, by its Vice- President Emeritus Tengku Datuk Seri Zainal Adlin and witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. At the ceremony, Musa launched a book, “Orang Utans: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation”, written by Junaidi Payne and Cede Prudente. The RM17O,000 contribution by Marks & Spencer marks the beginning of larger scale reforestation works which must be undertaken to ensure Sabah remains a major population habitat for landmark species such as the orang-utans and endemic Borneo Pygmy Elephants. The donation was made through the WWF-Malaysia (WWF), which handed it over to the Sabah Forestry Department. Sam said north Ulu Segama was once a disaster zone’, for in the 1960s and 19Os it was inappropriately logged using big hi-lead machines that virtually flattened the area. “Before sufficient time was allowed for recovery, short-term licenses were later issued in the past to re-log the area and in 1983 and 1998, El Nino cleared up the place. “The disaster was therefore caused by a combination of events, one after another. This was a tragedy,” he said. “Nevertheless, this area of about 10,000 and 12,000 hectares is of high bio-diversity and conservation value, being a lowland forest with a high orang utan population, of over 200, despite the degraded nature,” said Sam. However, he stressed that over the years, north Ulu Segama is recovering well and looks better every time, and he attributed the vast improvement to the closure of all logging operations. Sam said the State Government has also declared 250,000 hectares within the Segama-Malua area as a Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) area primarily for orangutan conservation as well as other biodiversity. He said reforestation is not an easy task and much depends on the availability of funds. But SFD has been very lucky with contributions pouring in from Yayasan Sabah as well as other private companies such as Sime Darby who contributed RM25 million to restore 3,000 hectares of forest area over a period of five years based on the forest management plan. “For now, we can afford to accelerate without disturbing the State Government because of all the donations that are coming in. But the State Government is still spending money in terms of providing facilities such as roads and other infrastructure,” Sam said. He said that last year alone, Yayasan Sabah allocated RM3 million to restore 1,000 hectares in north Ulu Segama and at the same time, the foundation had also contributed towards silviculture on 4,000 hectares. “This year, we are going to do another 4,000 hectares more, and if we can do this for the next 10 years, we will be able to restore and do silviculture on 40,000 hectares of forest area in Sabah. “And with the funding from Yayasan Sabah, we will be able to do about 12,000 hectares or more reforestation within 10 years.” Touching on the MoU signing ceremony, Adlin explained that the reforestation works within north Ulu Segama is a prime example of how WWF-Malaysia works in unison with government agencies for the good of the environment. “The RM17O,000 contribution also shows how non-governmental organisations such as WWF can act as a ‘channel’ for contributions to government agencies to carryout work that is crucial in restoring the habitat of wildlife. “Between 1975 and 2005, WWF-Malaysia has channelled over RM4O million into 200 conservation works in Sabah alone through WWF worldwide network,” he said.