Wednesday, March 20

Sabah moves forward with REDD+ road map

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has taken another step forward in developing a road map that would serve as a strategic framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the enhancing of carbon stocks (REDD+) for 2011-2013.

A two-day workshop to kick-start this REDD+ framework development process was conducted here last week, coordinated by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) with the assistance of WWF-Malaysia.

The move to produce this REDD+ preparedness roadmap is a follow-up action after a commitment was made in November last year when the state hosted an international conference on  ‘Forests and Climate Change: Decoding and Realizing REDD-plus in the Heart of Borneo, with Specific Focus on Sabah’.

Representatives of over 30 stakeholders attended the workshop to review the proposed roadmap that would form the state’s sub-national strategy and that would eventually become the framework for participating in an evolving international mechanism for REDD-plus.

Workshop chairman Frederick Kugan, Deputy Director (Forest Sector Planning) of the SFD, disclosed that the objectives of the workshop had been achieved.

He pointed out, however, that this was an initiation workshop and more such workshops would have to be conducted involving more stakeholders.

He said once the roadmap was improved and finalized after such consultations, it would be tabled to the State Cabinet for consideration and approval by the end of this year.

Kugan also announced that the workshop had identified a number of pilot projects that could be carried out during the 2011-2013 period in Sabah.

“We are going ahead because we have funding from partners for the initiation and also from the European Union (EU),” he said.

“We expect to have more partners coming up in the future. This is another aspect that we will be looking into, the matter concerning sustainable funding.”

During his visit to Sabah in March this year, Vincent Piket, the ambassador and head of the European Union’s delegation to Malaysia, announced that member states of the EU would finance a three-year REDD programme in Sabah starting next year.

He said a sum of four million Euros (about RM17 million) would be made available for carbon enhancement activities in the state like sustainable forest management, reduced impact logging (RIL) and forest restoration often referred to as REDD-plus.

During last week’s workshop, participants were told that the roadmap aims to promote the elaboration and development of sub-national REDD+ strategies to achieve REDD+ readiness, including the transformation of land use to sustainable development and sustainable forest management.

The workshop also gave participants the opportunity to brainstorm the criteria for EU’s site selection programme and identification of potential demonstration sites for the programme in Sabah.

Kugan also announced that tentatively, two task forces have been set up, one operational and the other technical.

The operational task force shall be responsible to oversee the development of REDD-plus strategies, improvement of inter-agency coordination, meaningful stakeholder engagement and consultation, and the demonstration of project establishment.

The technical task force, on the other hand, would see to the development of an effective and efficient monitoring, reporting and verifying framework for the state.

Another component of the road map is the development of a Sabah Carbon Stock Map by the end of 2012.

Aside from officials of SFD and WWF-Malaysia, other stakeholders represented at the workshop included non-governmental organizations like PACOS, Hutan, Borneo Conservation Trust, the Malaysian Nature Society, LEAP and the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society.

Also there were officials from the European Union’s delegation to Malaysia, the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Drainage and Irrigation Department, the Sabah Biodiversity Council, Sabah Parks and the Environmental Protection Department.

Private sector players in the forestry industry also participated, including license holders of forest management units (FMUs), and the New Forest Asia.