KOTA KINABALU: Numerous orang utan nests can be seen on top of many trees in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, Lahad Datu. This clearly shows the presence of the primates in the forest reserve, something that would have been quite rare 10 years ago.
Sime Darby Foundation chairman Tun Musa Hitam said he was excited to see the nests as it showed their efforts to help the state government restore the degraded forest were yielding positive results.
“I am actually very surprised and amazed to know that our efforts are paying off, the orang utan are clearly returning and making this forest their home with nests seen in many areas,” he said.
Musa added this makes them even more motivated to restore the forest and complete their replanting efforts that started in 2006 with some RM25mil worth of funding.
“We partnered with the Sabah Forestry Department and the Sime Darby Plantation to reforest 5,400ha of forest reserve, with RM25mil committed by our foundation towards the project over a period of 10 years,” he said.
A total of 4,724ha of degraded land has been reforested at the Bukit Piton Forest Reserve Area within Ulu Segama with 350, 000 seedlings of various trees.
Musa said the tree planting is expected to be completed by 2017 followed by maintenance of the planted trees until the end of 2018.
“This will help ensure that the planted trees are in the best condition for growth,” he said.
Musa added the project helped the local communities with job opportunities and allowed them to deepen their understanding of environmental conservation.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the reforestation project has helped restore the natural habitat of wildlife in the area, especially the orang utan.
“They used to live in clusters following the degradation of the forest due to human error and natural disasters but now, they are all over the forest,” he said.
Musa meanwhile said that they would look into other possibilities to help in environmental causes in Sabah after the 10-year project in Ulu Segama ends in 2018.
“Our interest will continue, maybe not specifically in providing funds for reforestation in Ulu Segama but in other aspects such as offering scholarships for those wanting to take up postgraduate courses or studies in related fields,” he said.
Musa added they would do whatever was necessary to make sure that their efforts in environmental conservation continue.