KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is targeting to restore some 200,000ha of degraded forests – an area almost seven times the size of Penang island – within a decade.
Describing the target as a modest one, state Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said about a quarter of it had been achieved at the Ulu Segama-Malua forest reserve in Sabah’s east coast.
He said about 60,000ha of degraded jungles had been replanted with native tree species, making Ulu Segama-Malua the world’s largest rehabilitated dipterocarp forest in the world.
It was recovered from the ravages of uncontrolled logging, forest fires and encroachment.
Mannan added that determination and political will were needed to achieve the target.
The Sabah government phased out logging activities in 2007 and seven years later, nearly 243,000ha of forests were classified as totally protected areas.
Restoration of Ulu Segama-Malua began earlier in March 2006 with the primary aim of protecting the vital habitat for orang utan.
The restoration was also aimed at protecting the buffer zones for the pristine Danum Valley conservation area.
The Ulu Segama-Malua area is home to some 3,500 to 4,000 orang utan, which make up 30% of the state’s orang utan population.
The restoration efforts appeared to have borne fruit, based on frequent sighting of orang utan nesting areas in previously degraded forests at Bukit Piton, in northern Ulu Segama, Mannan said.
He said work to restore another 10,000ha of degraded forests would begin soon, thanks to RM50mil funding from the palm oil sector.