Forest restoration project under UMS gets a boost with RM2mil funding from Sime Darby Foundation

KOTA KINABALU: Forest restoration in oil palm estates and riparian reserves at Sandakan Bay will get a boost with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) receiving over RM2mil in funding from Sime Darby Foundation on Friday (Jan 21).

UMS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Taufiq Yap Yun Hin said the areas that will benefit from this funding include the Ladang Sentosa, Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tigowis estates, and also areas set aside for conservation in Sandakan Bay.

He said the university's restoration and conservation project, which would also see enhanced carbon absorption and an increase of ecosystem services, will be fully funded by the Sime Darby Foundation over a three-year period beginning this year.

He said under these initiatives, estate workers will also benefit from improved water quality through restored water catchment.

The funding will also help local researchers develop their skills and contribute their knowledge to the state, Dr Taufiq said in his speech at the launching of the project.

His speech was delivered by deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Dr Ramzah Dambul.

“This project which was applied by the Forestry and Tropical Faculty gives opportunities to students, graduate as well as post graduate, to learn more about this field," he said.

“It would also help provide better ecosystem services to the downstream communities, strengthen riparian reserves, increase carbon stocks and biodiversity," Dr Taufiq said.

In thanking the foundation for its support, he said the university hoped to create guidelines for the long-term monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

He added that this effort was in line with the state government’s Sabah Maju Jaya initiative which, among others, focuses on environmental sustainability.

Meanwhile, Sime Darby Plantation CEO for upstream farming (Perladanan Huluan) Roslin Azmy Hassan said the collaboration between UMS and Sime Darby Plantations would contribute immensely to forest restoration.

He said the collaboration with UMS was the best platform for Sime Darby to carry out its commitment to conserve and restore forests and natural landscapes on a larger scale.

He added that the collaboration would help both parties find the best and most cost-effective methods to plant trees in estates and riparian reserves to increase biodiversity.

UMS and Sime Darby had earlier worked together to restore a 267ha portion of the Ladang Sapong forest in the Tenom district.

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