RM100mil lost to forest fires
Published on: Friday, April 29, 2016
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Beluran: Some 6,000 hectares of forest reserves in Sabah were destroyed following the dry spell last month causing losses amounting to RM100 million – raising questions as to whether cloud seeding should be done much earlier during a prolonged drought than at the last minute.Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan (pic) said 18,000 hectares of other forests (including on State lands outside reserves) were also destroyed by fires caused by the hot weather brought by El Nino.

"The losses of RM100 million are in the form of timber and forest reserves," he told reporters after launching the Timimbang-Botition Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) project, Thursday.

Most of the forest fires were caused by arsonists and for agricultural activities. Sam said the forest fires could not have started on their own unlike in Australia and the United States.

"Forest fires in the two countries are needed for reforestation but our rainforest does not need reforestation."

He said efforts to treat the destroyed forests was done annually via the reforestation programme undertaken by the government.

Some 34,000 hectares of forests were treated by replanting of saplings.

Meanwhile, the sustainable forest management (SFM) of the 13,394 hectares Timimbang-Botition project is another effort by the Sabah Forestry Department to rehabilitate Class 1 forest reserve.

The project encompasses two areas, the Timimbang Forest Reserve and the Botitian Forest Reserve with their respective areas of 11,465 hectares and 1,929 hectares.

Mannan said the SFM project of Timimbang–Botitian had met its target for five years since it began in 2011.

He said the primary objective was to restore affected forest by maintaining its biodiversity and creating environmental-friendly conditions for the growth of a stable ecosystem.

According to him, the effort based on SFM concept was in line with the State Forestry Policy.

"The effort will also indirectly raise awareness on forest rehabilitation by the government.

"At the same time, the effort will increase employment and economic opportunities for the local residents," he said when opening the SFM Timimbang-Botition Forestry Station.

The project was fully financed by the Sabah state government with funds amounting to RM10.7 million from the Forestry Community Project Fund.

Mannan said the project was implemented through rehabilitation, enrichment planting and trimming of creepers.


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