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30pc Sabah to be totally protected
Published on: Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government has pledged to expand the size of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) to 30 per cent of Sabah's land mass within a decade.A motion to gazette 90,000 hectares as part realisation of this objective would be tabled in the State Assembly this month.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Tuesday that as of now the State has already far exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) target of 10 per cent and the Convention Biological Diversity (CBD) at 17 per cent of various types of ecosystems. He said for terrestrial ecosystems in Sabah, over 24.2 per cent of the State's land area which is about 1.8 million hectares have been gazetted as TPAs (Totally Protected Areas).

"This figure represents the largest network of TPAs in the country," he said when launching the International Conference on the Heart Of Borneo. The 8th edition of the conference this year is themed "Enabling and Empowering Conservation Through Science-Policy Interface, Conservation Finance and Community Engagement.

He said the effort must progress beyond mere paper protection and, instead, managed including enhancing resources and capacity to protect biological areas especially wildlife species from threats, such as poaching.

He also said the increase in TPAs must be made in tandem with the ongoing rationalisation of land use for socio-economic wellbeing of the local community, especially those living within or adjacent to protected areas.

"They must be engaged through various initiatives such as ecotourism and, most importantly, they must be consulted in order to ensure that any programme introduced will benefit the community," he said.

On forest certification, Musa said some 900,000 hectares of Sabah's forests have been certified since the introduction of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in 1997. He said the certification was either under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the MTCS system which is affiliated to the European Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

He said more areas are expected to be certified under the FSC by 2017, which will increase the total number of certified forests in Sabah to 1,018,698.96 hectares, the largest in Malaysia.

He also said that apart from promoting good forest management and governance, the State's forests must be restored in terms of its productive and functional capacity.

In line with this, he said, huge resources have been invested by the State Government, the FMU holders and various donors to restore and plant over 600,000 hectares of forests to date, again the largest in the country.

The Chief Minister announced that the next crucial agenda for the State is to further restore an additional 500,000 hectares including the establishment of high yielding forest plantation to realise the projected timber capacity of the forests in the next 10 years for the survival of the industry and for revenue to support the protection and management of its planted forests.

He further said that similar emphasis is placed on the development of lands outside protected areas and forest reserves through the introduction of best practices in sectors such as agriculture.

One such initiative is the Sabah Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil which is a 10-year programme launched last year to have all Crude Palm Oil produced from Sabah to be CSPO certified.

"It is my hope that come 2025, all oil palm plantations both large and smallholders are fully certified," he said while acknowledging the support from Forever Sabah and the RSPO Secretariat as advisors to the guide the CSPO process.

He stressed on the importance of having a health check of the State's forests which is why the State Government agreed to engage with the Carnegie Institute for Science to deploy the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) earlier this year.

The CAO is a scientifically advanced technology that produces high resolution and three dimensional mapping of the structure and quality of Sabah's forests, carbon stocks and biodiversity patterns.



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