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400 oil palm trees removed from riparian reserve
Published on: Thursday, June 05, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The Kinabatangan Batu Putih Community Tourism Co-operative (Kopel) has replanted 4,600 indigenous seedlings after State Assistant Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming started the ball rolling by excavating a young oil palm tree two weeks ago from the riparian reserve that was encroached by Ladang Kinabatangan.

The Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and Mescot said Kopel members have uprooted 400 palms planted in the riparian reserve area in Batu Putih to date.

"Kopel's forest restoration team has been working very hard, digging young oil palm trees and replanting eight different species of native trees covering three hectres out of a total eight which we plan to restore.

We hope to achieve this within the next couple of weeks," said Kopel Executive Manager, Rosli Jukrana.

"Then the hard maintenance work will start and 3 to 5 years to monitor the forest recovery," Rosli added .

"But our forest restoration team is extremely motivated, and we really hope it will set a precedent for more riparian reserves illegally encroached by estates to be recaptured and restored," Rosli said.

Pang was impressed by the dedication shown by the local folks at Kopel to restore the riparian reserve that has been encroached for more than 25 years.

"I am aware that the commercial planter evicted from the riparian reserve is currently trying to recover part of this riparian reserve despite the fact that the Land and Survey Department had identified the clear boundaries.

"I can assure everyone that the State Government will not bow to the attempt and we will make sure that Ladang Kinabatangan respects our State laws and State Government property," Pang said.

"I have a lot of admiration for Kopel and their dedication towards claiming back and restoring a riparian reserve that will enhance the connectivity for wildlife in the Kinabatangan," said Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

"Our team will support them by sending students and volunteers during tree planting activities, contributing funds to support the forest restoration team, as well as studying the forest recovery and monitoring the return of wildlife in the riparian reserve," Dr Goossens said.

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