Saturday, February 22

Totally protected areas doubled in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: The totally protected areas (TPA) in Sabah have more doubled after Datuk Seri Musa Aman took over the chief ministership of Sabah, said the Sabah Forestry Department.

Its director, Datuk Sam Mannan, said that for the record, in 2003, when Musa first took over the realm of the State Government, TPAs were only 842,597 ha or 11.45% of Sabah.

“This has since more than doubled, and the exemplary actions of the State Government, driven by the strong leadership of the Chief Minister, gives Sabah a unique advantage in world tropical forest management,” he said in a statement yesterday.

On November 26, 2015, Mannan said the State Government of Sabah, true to its word to further enhance the protection and conservation of the most important ecological zone of Sabah (Danum Valley-Maliau Basin-Imbak Canyon), added another 112,118 hectares of mostly lowland forests of high bio-diversity, as its buffers by re-classifying them to Class I (protection) Forest Reserve from their former Class II (commercial) Forest Reserve status.

“From approximately 480,000 hectares in 2014, this corridor of life is now 679,156.99 hectares.  Arguably, it is the biggest totally protected area in one conservation block in Malaysia.

“Amongst others, is the ecologically highly valuable, Kuamut Forest Reserve of 69,454 hectares which is currently being assessed for a carbon project.  The balance of Kuamut forest Reserve (47,017 ha), parts of which are currently under Ril harvesting, will be added to the corridor as a further enlarged TPA, once operations are closed off by December 31, 2018,” he pointed out.

Mannan said this major decision on growing protection had received accolades from around the world,  including from the Royal Society South East Asia Programme which stated the extent of protected forest in Sabah – most crucially lowland forest –  really does put Sabah at the forefront of conservation globally.

He also said the Forestry Department acknowledged and appreciated the science-based advice and financial  contribution of many organisations such as The Royal Society of The United Kingdom, WWF, LEAP, The European Union (EU), Abraham Foundation of New York and individuals who have helped to create this corridor of life.

“The current TPAs in Sabah now stand at 1,779,030 ha, or 24% of the landmass, with 221,475 ha of TPAs added at the last State Assembly sitting. This is in compliance with the government’s policy to have 30% of Sabah under TPAs by 2025, as announced by the Head of State, at the opening of the State Assembly in 2014,” he added.