Sarawak biggest contributor to ‘Heart of Borneo’

NEW APPOINTMENT: Awang Tengah (left) presenting the appointment letter to Penghulu Chuo Siong Nang while (from second left) Datu Len Talif Salleh and Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai look on.

MIRI: As far as the ‘Heart of Borneo’, a collective green lung initiative, is concerned, Sarawak is its largest contributor in terms of the conservation of flora and fauna when compared to Sabah, Brunei and Indonesia.

The state has come a long way in forest management practices, beginning with the establishment of the State Forest Department in 1919.

Among others, the state government is eyeing one million hectares of totally protected areas (TPA) for national parks, wildlife sanctuaries
and others.

Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said presently 80 per cent of the state, which spans 12.4 million hectares in total land mass, was still under forest cover.

He took foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to task for criticising the state’s forest policies without looking at the real picture on the ground.

He said allegations of Orang
Utan destruction to make way for oil palm plantations were baseless.

“If one takes a London-Paris train, you can only see small islands of forest. Throughout the journey probably only about 10 per cent of the area are under forest cover,” he said here yesterday at a ceremony to present appointment letters to new Honorary WildLife Rangers.

Awang Tengah said Orang
Utan habitats could only be
found in Semengok, Sebayau-Meludam, and Lanjak Entimau, and not throughout the
state as wrongly painted by these NGOs.

He added that the state’s government had a clear policy and direction in forest management, and its aims were for nearly
half of the state’s land mass (six million hectares) to be under permanent forest estate (PFE) and one million hectares under TPA by 2020.

“Sarawak has been recognised by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) as a role model on good forest management, and sourcing timber from PFEs will reduce our reliance on natural forests for timber.”

The PFEs are expected to produce between 15 and 20 million cubic metres of timber for the state downstream industries and exports.

Awang Tengah said the state was also committed to conserving her rich flora and fauna.

As for mangrove wetland parks, their rehabilitation and conservation in Kuching division have been included as a Ramsar site – coveted conservation recognition.

There’s also a mangrove rehabilitation programme in Kuala Rejang.

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