Groups: Forest conservation can work with community effort

Jannie (sixth from right) with participants of the workshop.

KOTA KINABALU: A community based conservation initiative will be a better approach to forest conservation and protecting community livelihood if implemented properly.

Grassroot groups believe that such an initiative known as Tagal, (which in the Kadazandusun language means do not or no need) would bring about better conservation of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered.

Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia secretariat director Jannie Lasimbang said the Tagal system that is commonly applied for rivers in the state requires the involvement of the community.

“The main purpose is to conserve, rehabilitate and promote sustainability,” she said during a workshop with various agencies under the Sabah Social Forestry working group here on Wednesday.

Jannie said there were existing laws supporting the Tagal system such as the Sabah Forest Enactment 1968, Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, Sabah Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan, Sabah Land Ordinance 1930 and the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

“As such, if the government is willing to acknowledge the use of the Tagal system based on these laws, our forests can be saved,” she said.

She also acknowledged the fact that there were challenges to be addressed before the system was implemented.

“We have customary issues to look into, whether policies are needed to be drawn up for its implementation, enforcement of native laws, who are tied to the laws and so on,” Jannie said.

She also said that there were already some villages in Sabah that were practicing a similar system on their own.

Sabah Forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan said the proposals and the idea of having a forest Tagal system were good and should be considered.

“We are actually studying this and are still getting feedback from the relevant parties,” he said when contacted.

He said the department would not hesitate to adopt the system if it is proven to be beneficial for both conservation and economic purposes.

Mannan said there were still many aspects to consider and look into including legislation, implementation and its effectiveness.

“We will look into all these aspects and then decide whether it is feasible for Sabah,” he added.

The one-day workshop was attended by about 100 participants, including representatives from the Sabah Forestry Department, LEAP (Land, Environment, Animals, People), Asean Social Forestry Network, PACOS Trust (Partners of Community Organisation) and Sabah Parks.

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