KOTA KINABALU: The state government is studying ways to implement payment for environmental services in Sabah to finance forest conservation and generate income.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said if this was to be done, it could earn the government millions.
“This proposal is timely considering the increasing proportion of protected areas in the state that is not generating direct revenue to the government,” he said.
Currently there is only one service – the Malua BioBank that is helping the government generate revenue with an expected US$34mil (RM148mil) income from the whole programme.
The objective of Malua BioBank is to create a commercially sustainable model for large-scale conservation and rainforest restoration in the Malua Forest Reserve in the state.
The range of payment for environmental services is wide – from recreational purposes where entrance fees are collected for visitors to carbon sequestration.
Mannan said they were not sure how much could be generated via the payment for environmental services as yet.
“So far, we are only getting less than RM5mil,” he said.
The World Forestry Institute (WFI), based in Portland, Oregon, US, has offered four fully funded fellowships (scholarships) to Sabahans over the next four years.
Mannan said these fellowships, one of which has been taken by a staff of the department for a six-month course, would greatly benefit candidates wanting to expand their knowledge in this field.
“We are chairing the committee for this and will be sending three more eligible candidates – be it from the industry or institutes of higher learning relevant to the industry or from the WFI,” he said.
In 2014, Kota Kinabalu initiated a sister-city relationship with the city of Portland.
This partnership is expected to be formalised soon, and has since expanded into a Sabah-Oregon collaboration, focusing largely on issues related to environmental conservation and renewable energy.