KOTA KINABALU: The European Union (EU) and Sabah Forestry Department yesterday launched a RM16 million programme to work together on tackling climate change through sustainable forest management and community development.
The contract was signed by EU which was represented by EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation, His Excellency Luc Vandebon and with Sabah Forestry Department director, Datuk Sam Mannan.
The four-year programme is aimed at contributing to the sustainable and low carbon development of the state.
Both parties will also cooperate on the REDD+ strategy to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promote the sustainable management of forests, as well as the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
According to Mannan, the programme had been designed to meet the needs of Sabah, in particular to support Sabah’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation and deforestation.
“It will also help us to effectively engage local communities in forest management and rehabilitation both on government and community lands. I believe that this will generate valuable experiences and enhance our capacity to further develop and implement the planned Sabah REDD+ strategy,” he said.
Mannan further added that the programme would benefit the poorest people in Sabah – those who are dependent on the forest for their livelihood.
“Through this programme, they will appreciate the environment better, not that they don’t already, but we want to prove that by conserving the forest and by sustainable management on the ground, this would also improve their livelihood. There is no point having conservation and what not at the expense of the people’s livelihood and people’s standard of living. This must be addressed. This is part of the objectives and goals.”
He said the importance of the project was not what was achieved but that it could lead to and to expand to other areas in need of a similar boost.
“Hopefully by that time we have acquired the practical skills and human relations skills that can be quite difficult,” he said.
He also disclosed the areas that would be involved in the programme. They are Batu Putih at Kinabatangan, Kampung Gana and Kinabalu.
On the REDD+, Mannan said they were not just addressing at local levels but stressed that the activities involved would benefit the whole world.
Meanwhile, Vandebon highlighted the EU’s active engagement with Sabah through various cooperation projects.
“This is the first EU project in Sabah of such a scale. It addresses pertinent issues for Malaysia, such as climate change, sustainable forest management and community development. The European Union is in the lead of the global climate change negotiations and strongly supports actions aiming to curb emissions from deforestation. REDD+ is a relatively new concept and we need to demonstrate that it can bring concrete benefits, in particular, for forest dependent communities,” he said.