Private sector in Sabah to plant 80 million trees

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Hajiji (ninth left) and others put thumbs up for SIBES 2022.

KOTA KINABALU (Jan 17): The private sector from the timber industry in Sabah will plant 80 million trees in 10 to 12 years with an investment of RM4 billion under the Industrial Tree Plantation (ITP) initiative.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Noor said the ITP is an innovative public-private partnership between the Sabah state government and the timber industry to reduce and relieve pressure on tropical timber and forest.

“The ITP initiative has higher yield and shorter gestation period, which will be a game-changer to reviving Sabah’s timber industry to its former peak production of 12 million cubic metres in the 1980s.”

He said the private sector in Sabah will plant 80 million trees in 10 to 12 years with an investment of RM4 billion.

Based on industry input, he said the establishment of 400,000 ha of forest plantation can create potential employment of 40,000 skilled and semi-skilled employees in the upstream sector.

Another 40,000 in the downstream forest industries will be created when planted timber starts to flow, he said.

“The ITP is projected to earn RM7 billion per year from the export of the timber products.”

In line with this, he said the State Government must ensure that the timber industry is sustainable for future generations and for the industry.

Hence, he said the Sabah Forestry Department as the conservator of the forest is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the ITP to ensure environmental sustainability and governance of the forest.

Hajiji said that in his opening keynote address at the Sabah International Business and Economic Summit (SIBES) held at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here on Monday.

He said the ITP, initiated by the Sabah Forestry Department is not only an economic game-changer but crucial for conservation and sustainability.

“By planting trees in areas degraded by logging activities, it will go a long way in achieving a carbon-neutral nation by as early as 2050.

“This effort is in line with the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

On the other hand, Hajiji said the State Government is exploring various ways to enhance our world-class tourism.

“The State Government recognizes tourism’s importance as an economic catalyst and welcomes investors for win-win business opportunities.

“This will enhance our competitiveness as we want to ensure that Sabah remains as one of Malaysia’s favourite tourism destinations.”

He added that SICC, where SIBES was held, is the largest state-of-the-art purpose-built facility in Borneo and presents opportunities for global events and well suited for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).

He said the State Government is looking into establishing a Sabah Convention Bureau to enhance promotion efforts to make Sabah  a preferred destination for MICE events.

Hajiji said Sabah’s tourism industry has always outperformed industry expectations in the past years.

Prior to the onslaught of the pandemic in 2019, he said the industry had experienced an upward trend, recording 4.1 million arrivals and registering RM8.3 billion in total receipts and RM12 million in tourism tax revenue.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected global tourism, we are optimistic the tourism sector will recover with the reopening of borders.

“Drawing lessons from the pandemic, we are balancing mass tourism with high-yield and high-end tourism products.

“In that regard, we are embarking on several projects to attract tourists in the high-end category such as the integrated Lok Kawi Resort City development, among others.”