KOTA KINABALU: The controversial 50,000ha of logged over area in the Kalabakan secondary forest reserve, close to the renowned wildlife corridor of Maliau basin and Danum valley, will be converted into an oil palm plantation.
The state made the decision after the Forestry Department had given its approval for oil palm development in the area, which was previously earmarked for a RM4bil China pulp and paper mill complex.
When certain companies were allowed to log the Kalabakan area, China decided to abandon the mill project, which was to be undertaken with Sabah under a memorandum of understanding signed in 1996.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said the oil palm development would not have any effects on the wildlife corridor as the area had already been logged over.
He said oil palm expertise of the state-owned Sawit Kinabalu Bhd would be used in developing the area with land concession holder Yayasan Sabah at a cost of RM500mil over the next 10 years.
This is a smart partnership between two government agencies that will benefit the state, Musa said on Tuesday after witnessing a signing ceremony between Yayasan Sabah group chairman Tan Sri Khalil Jamalul and Sawit Kinabalu group managing director Salim Mohammad for the development.
The controversy over the Kalabakan logging was publicised four years ago when environmentalists raised serious concerns over the intensive logging and they warned that it would pose a threat to the ecologically rich Kalabakan region in the east coast of Sabah.
On whether he received a report from state-owned Borneo Samudra over its move to carry out forest clearing for oil palm plantation without informing the Wildlife Department, Musa said the company informed him that it was cultivated land that was being cleared.
They do not need to inform the Wildlife (Department) as it is not a primary forest, Musa said, but added that such companies should inform the department if they spot wildlife.
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