KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Forestry Department on Tuesday (Nov 28) refuted claims that questioned the legality of logging activities in Sipitang, which was published by a local daily on Monday (Nov 27).
Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Frederick Kugan said the activities were related to land clearing for agriculture development in a 3,473.8 acre (1405.79 ha) area owned by Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) at Kampung Iburu.
"As of now, areas that have been logged involve two blocks with the size of 960.6 acre (388.74 ha).
"The logs from this clearing works are taken out after royalty was cleared and the relevant permit (Form IIB) was issued by the Forestry Department," he explained.
On Monday, it was reported that Kampung Maligan villagers in that district wanted the Department to investigate the logging activities they claimed were carried out by several companies, which also caused extensive damage to the roads there.
A picture carried by the paper also showed a lorry which was laden with planks, overturned by the roadside and said to have disrupted the traffic flow there.
One of the villagers expressed concerns with the many lorries seen transporting logs in and out of the area and questioned why there was still logging being done there.
"Based on our investigation, Sabah Forestry Department discovered that the picture of the overturned lorry occurred at Maligan-Mendulong public road.
"The planks are legally produced by a mill near the village ... The operation validity of the mill is until Nov 26, 2024 and it is located at Kg Mengayam and not Kg Iburu as reported.
"Based on the picture and evidence of Removal Pass issued by Sipitang district Forestry office, this incident actually occurred earlier on Sept 4 where the company operator has returned on the same day to pull the lorry and fix the damage on the road, in line with the conditions set by the district Public Works Department (PWD)," Kugan elaborated.
He assured that the logging operations within SLDB land were for agriculture purposes and the mill's operations were following regulations.
Elaborating more on the logging activities, he said as of Oct 9, 1,296 logs equivalent to 1,979.63 cubic metres had been extracted from the SLDB land, where all royalties had been cleared as well as other payments.
He said that besides the mill in Kg Mengayam, the logs would also be sent over to three other mills – one at Keningau and two at Kimanis – when the weather recovers and based on permission from relevant parties.