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Wednesday May 21, 2008 MYT 8:22:59 PM

RM100mil to put trees back in Sabah forests

KOTA KINABALU: Some RM100mil will be spent over the next 10 years to regenerate the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves spanning nearly 237,000ha, about 10 times the size of Penang island.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the funds, largely sourced from international contributors, would be used to restore up to 20,000ha of severely degraded forests.

“A portion of the funds would go towards silviculture works covering 40,000ha, such as clearing the undergrowth to enable young trees to grow,” he said.

Earlier, Mannan represented the Sabah Government in the signing of a memorandum of understanding with WWF-Malaysia for a 55ha reforestation effort in the northern part of Ulu Segama forest reserve where logging had ceased since December 2007.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman and Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Datuk Yahya Hussin witnessed the event.

He said the reforestation efforts at Ulu Segama and Malua had gained much international attention and United Kingdom-based retailer Marks & Spencer was the latest contributor, donating RM170, 000.

Other contributors in the Ulu Segama forest rehabilitation efforts include the Sime Darby group, which is donating RM25mil over the next five years, and the New Forest group, RM10mil over the next six years.

The WWF would be contributing RM2mil over the next six months while US-based philanthropist Nancy Abraham donated US$100,000, the US Government US$20,000 and the Australian Government RM62, 000.

Locally, Yayasan Sabah has set aside RM12.5mil, as seed money for the forest restoration efforts while the Sabah Government will be spending RM5mil yearly under the 9th Malaysia Plan.

Mannan said the restoration efforts at the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves would, among other things, benefit an estimated 4,000-orang utan and other wildlife.

“What we are doing here today will have a direct impact on improving the habitat for our iconic orang utan and the Borneo pygmy elephant which can only be found in Sabah,” he added.

WWF-Malaysia vice-president Tengku Zainal Adlin said the group had channelled some RM40mil to conservation in Sabah between 1975 and 2005.

Sabah is one of the main priority regions within the WWF worldwide network,” he said.

Musa also launched a book, Orang utan: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation, authored by renowned wildlife biologist and conservationist Dr Junaidi Payne, with photographs by award-winning nature photographer Cede Prudente.

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