Friday, March 22

‘Teach other countries about Deramakot’


KOTA KINABALU: A Japanese professor of forest ecology, who has made repeated visits to Sabah’s model forest reserve at Deramakot studying its biological diversity since 2003, has called on the Sabah Forestry Department to consider teaching other countries how to manage forests on a sustainable basis based on its experience.

Dr Kanehiro Kitayama, professor of forest ecology from the School of Agriculture of Kyoto University, said that after he and the university’s team of researchers had spent seven years on such studies, “We found that these biological communities in Deramakot are very well preserved”.

He said there was no doubt that this was due to the application of sustainable forest management.

“In that sense, Deramakot is truly a model case for not only sustained yield of timber but in the conservation of biological components,” he observed.

Prof Dr Kitayama told The Borneo Post in a recent interview here that this was a model system that the Sabah government could be proud of.

“I encourage the Sabah Forestry Department to duplicate to other forest management units (FMUs) in the state.

“At the same time, they can also teach foresters in other countries how to manage their forests to prevent from deforestation; forest degradation which is a big issue in many other countries.”

He acclaimed the Deramakot Forest Reserve, that spreads over 55,000 hectares, as “a great success” and offered his congratulations to the department “for maintaining such a wonderful forest and applying ecologically friendly harvesting method”.

Its sustainable forest management plan was developed over five years from 1989 to 1994, initially with technical support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

In 1997, Deramakot became the first natural forest in Malaysia to be certified as “a well managed forest” by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Since then, the Sabah state government has used the Deramakot Forest Reserve as a model for other FMUs in the state.

Dr Kitayama pointed out that sustainable forest management should include the concept of biological diversity.

According to him, before he began his research work at Deramakot in 2003, no one had really studied biological diversity as a whole at that reserve.

“Of course there are researchers who studied the orang utans, or certain species, but my study included various components of biological groups, not only orang utans per se, but included insects, large mammals, insects, tree species, and so on.

“We studied large and medium sized mammals like civets, kijang, boars, bears, and so on, which are very difficult to study because they are forest dwelling species.

“But we have developed a new method which makes use of sensory cameras. These are the cameras which have automatic sensors which sense the heat emitted from mammals.

“So we placed lots of sensor cameras in the entire Deramakot unit. We studied the abundance of large, middle sized mammals and found that this assembly of communities of mammals is well preserved in Deramakot,” he reported.

“We found particularly the kijang, Malay civets and sun bears are well protected in Deramakot.” This Japanese professor of forest ecology was also impressed by the practice of reduced impact logging (RIL) at Deramakot.

For many foresters, he noted, RIL meant reducing the harvest and reducing collateral damages.

But his team also studied the ecology, and ecosystem functions of RIL.

“There are more components in RIL. We found that nutrients cycling are well maintained at Deramakot because the RIL is effective in keeping top soil which is the source of many nutrients for trees.”

Prof Dr Kitayama said his studies at Deramakot found that there were many beneficial effects of RIL, not only reduced collateral damages, but maintenance of ecosystem functions as well.