Nestle to plant seedlings under reforestation project

SANDAKAN: Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd will plant forest seedlings up to 150 kilometres on both sides of the Kinabatangan river under a reforestation project that will create a landscape where people, nature and agriculture co-exist harmoniously in their need for water.

Managing Director Peter R. Vogt said the three-year reforestation project is targetted to cover 2,400 hectares of riverside vegetation along the river for ecological and environmental functions.

"The Nestle RiLeaf project will see forest seedlings planted on both sides of the river over a 110km stretch of the Kinabatangan river," he said at the launch of the project on Monday by Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun in Sukau, Kinabatangan.

Vogt said the initial phase would see 100,000 trees being planted over the next one year to commemorate Nestle's 100 years of existence in Malaysia in 2012.

"This project reflects our global philosophy of creating shared value, as in addition to saving the environment, it will stimulate the local economy by creating jobs and generating income for the local community who are directly as well as indirectly involved in the project.

"We are also looking at how we can engage with our palm oil stakeholders in the Nestle supply chain here to have a meaningful and positive sharing of value for the benefit of all," Vogt added.

RiLeaf will leverage on the commercial agriculture experience and expertise of Nestle to speed up riverside reforestation and increase the durability of indigenous forest seedlings to ensure greater survivability.

Carried out with the full endorsement of the Sabah government, the Nestle RILeaf project will also have an active role in palm oil sustainability, reduce environmental impact of oil palm plantings through minimisation of chemical fertilisers and promote back-to-basic good agricultural practices.

The 560km long Kinabatangan is Malaysia's second longest river and is crucial for the survival of wildlife, plants and man.

Rapid change in land-use along the Kinabatangan has led to a degree of deforestation and forest degradation which has a worrying impact on wildlife habitats, forcing some already endangered species into the remaining pockets of jungle, and increasing stress on the ecosystem. - BERNAMA

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