900,000 hectares of Sabah’s forests certified and more this year

KOTA KINABALU: Following the introduction of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in 1997, some 900,000 hectares of Sabah’s forests have been certified either under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the MTCS system.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman said that MTSC was affiliated to the European Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

He added that more areas were expected to be certified under the FSC by the year 2017 and this will increase the total certified forests in Sabah to 1,018,698.96 hectares, the largest in Malaysia.

Apart from promoting good forest management and governance, the State’s forests must be restored in terms of its productive and functional capacity, he said.

“Huge resources have been invested by the State Government, the FMU holders and various donors to restore and plant over 600,000 hectares of forests to date, the largest in the country,” he said when officiating at the opening of International Conference on Heart of Borneo conference organised by the State Forestry Department at the Magellan Sutera Harbour yesterday.

He said that the next crucial agenda would be for the State to further restore an additional 500,000 hectares, including the establishment of high yielding forest plantations in order to realise the projected timber production capacity of the forests in the next 10 years which was important for the survival of the industry as well as for the revenue to support the protection and management of our planted forests.

“Similar emphasis is also placed on the development of the lands outside protected areas and forest reserves, through the introduction of best practices in sectors such as agriculture. One such initiative is the Sabah Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, a 10-year programme launched in late 2015 to have all Crude Palm Oil produced from Sabah to be certified Sustainable Palm Oil or CSPO. It is my hope that come 2025, all oil palm plantations both large and smallholders are fully certified,” he said.

He said that this must be pragmatic approach and backed with incessant consultations with the relevant stakeholders.

He acknowledged the support of Forever Sabah and the RSPO Secretariat as advisors to guide the CSPO process which was crucial given its complexity and the limited timeline.

Musa also commented on the number of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed during the International Heart of Borneo Conference yesterday and stated that it signified the openness and readiness of the State Government to engage with pragmatic partners from local to the international front, in undertaking with at least RM100 million worth of investment.

“This is a good testament that people are inclined to cooperate with the government in support of conservation efforts and I welcome more such partnerships to take place in the coming years,” he said.

Musa also said that central to the HoB initiative was the State Government’s policy in conserving its natural ecosystem through protected areas.

“For the terrestrial ecosystems in Sabah, over 24.2 percent of the State land area (about 1.8 million hectares) are gazetted as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs), and this figure represents the largest network of TPAs in the country,” he said.

He said that this percentage had far exceeded the international union for conservation of nature’s target of 10 percent and even the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target of 17 percent of various types of ecosystems.

The State Government has pledged to expand the size of its TPAs to 30 percent of Sabah’s land mass within a decade, he said.

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