KUCHING: The Sarawak government has to-date gazetted 0.82 million hectares of land as totally protected areas.
The areas include national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries for the purpose of conservation of flora and fauna, recreational, educational as well as for ecotourism activities.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said that it is the state government’s plan to gazette one million hectares of land as totally protected areas by 2020.
“In addition, we have also gazetted 1.24 million hectares as totally protected areas covering water bodies or territorial waters. Under the State Land Use Policy, the forestry sector is also allocated with six million hectares for the purpose of Permanent Forest Estates.
“To-date, we have gazetted 4.3 million hectares as Permanent Forest Estates mainly for timber production,” he said at the State Forest Department’s Forest Talk 2019 here Wednesday.
Awang Tengah, who is also Second Minister of Urban Development and Resources and Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industry Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, disclosed that the Forest Department is committed in implementing the Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) programme on a large scale effective this year by planting local tree species in the area to rejuvenate degraded forest areas,
“To-date, 93,894 hectares have been successfully planted under the enrichment planting and restoration work throughout the state. Meanwhile, continuous research via collaborations with local and international institutions are ongoing to produce high-quality planting materials that are suitable for forest ecosystem in Sarawak,” he said.
He further explained that the establishment of planted forests is a long-term strategy towards providing alternative sources of raw materials for the timber industry in Sarawak, saying that the planted forests also reduced the dependency on natural forests.
“We have set a target of one million hectares of forest plantation by 2025. To-date, we have planted 446,229 hectares of forest plantation to support the timber industry.”
Earlier, state Forest director Datu Hamden Mohammad said that Forest Talk 2019 was one of the many activities held in conjunction with the department’s 100th anniversary celebration.
“In line with the theme of the forum ‘The Journey of 100 Years’, the Forest Talk aims to reminisce the history, contributions and achievements of the Forest Department over 100 years through the sharing of experience and knowledge from invited panelists and through the discussion, we could better strategise and plan the way forward for a better Forest Department Sarawak,” he said.
During the function, two management plans for Gunung Lesong National Park and another for Gunung Buda National Park were handed over to Awang Tengah.
Hamden said that these management plans will guide the respective authorities in managing and conserving forest biodiversity and boost ecotourism. Also present were Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Datu Dr Penguang Manggil and others.