KOTA KINABALU: Forest fires damaged more than half of the 12,196ha Binsuluk peat swamp reserve over the past several weeks.
Inter-monsoon rains since Friday finally doused the fires, which started in early April and razed some 8,000ha of the area, said Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan.
The burnt-out areas will regenerate naturally but it will take time, he said, adding that the area was not suitable for any type of development due to its peat swamp characteristics.
Any development effort there would be a disaster, he said.
Binsulok and the nearby 3,630ha Klias reserve are the last remaining peat swamp forests in Sabah.
Firemen and the department’s Forest Rangers have been battling to put out the fires in Binsuluk, which were triggered by the prolonged dry spell since March.
Beaufort district officer Mohd Shaid Othman said there was also the possibility that the fires at Binsuluk could have been set off by poachers hunting for deer and other wildlife.
He said they were, however, leaving it to the police to carry out their probe into the matter.