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Bill to take out 90 villages in forest reserves passed
Published on: Friday, November 22, 2019
By: Larry Ralon

Kota Kinabalu: THE State Legislative Assembly passed an amendment to the Schedule to the Forests (Constitution of Forest Reserves and Amendment) Enactment 1984 (No.4 of 1984), taking out about 90 villages in forest reserves which altogether have about 3,800 houses and 20,000 population. 

The Bill, which was the last of four passed on the last day of the sitting and tabled by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Arifin Asgali was meant to excise, constitute and reclassify 24 forest reserves.   

It involved altogether 1,637.563 hectares within 24 forest reserves, representing about 0.05 per cent of the total State forest reserve area. While doing so, the Government also gazetted 2,154,372ha as forest reserve areas. 

He said they include some 73.16ha of Mount Lumaku Forest Reserve Class I, Pababag Forest Reserve Class I (475ha), Kungkular Forest Reserve Class I (583ha), Tanjung Tumunong Hallo Forest Reserve Class I (140ha), Silam Forest Reserve Class I (56ha), Tamparuli Forest Reserve Class I (3ha), Pulau Banggi & Pulau Balambangan Forest Reserve Class I (6ha), Tawau Forest Reserve Class I (20ha), Kuala Segama & Kuala Maruap Forest Reserve Class I (5ha), Marudu Bay Forest Reserve Class I (2ha) and Kuala Bonggaya & Kuala Labuk Forest Reserve Class I (9ha) which were excised for villages purposes.  

Also excised for village purposes are three hectares of Kuala Tomani Forest Reserve Class II, Bengkoka Peninsula Forest Reserve Class V (12ha), Sg Gum Gum & Sg Loboh Forest Reserve Class V (3ha), Kudat Forest Reserve Class V (3ha), Sg Sugut, Sg Paitan & Jambongan Forest Reserve Class V (10ha), Tawau Forest Reserve Class V (2ha), Abai Forest Reserve Class V (26ha), Kuala Bonggaya & Kuala Labuk Forest Reserve Class V (8 ha), Sulaman Lake Forest Reserve Class V (80ha), Semporna Forest Reserve Class V  (112ha) and Trusan Kinabatangan Forest Reserve Class V (5ha), Mandahan Forest Reserve Class VI (0.403ha) and Apas Forest Reserve Class VI (one hectare).

“This will definitely bring great relief to the local villagers involved, as their villages are being gazetted as village reserve,” he said. Some 2.8 ha of forest in Sungai Tabangka, Sandakan, and 1,750ha of forest in Sungai Sumanggulu, Tenom, are also constituted as Forest Reserves Class I and be named as Sungai Tabangka Forest Reserve Class I and Sungai Sumanggulu Forest Reserve Class I, respectively, he said, adding these areas are found to have high conservation values. 

“Two hectares of state land in Kinabatangan area are to be constituted as Forest Reserve Class IV and to be named as Pusat Luar Kulamba Forest Reserve Class IV. This area is found to be suitable for research and education purposes,” he said.  

He said 18,092ha of forest in Sungai Kinabatangan area are constituted as Forest Reserve Class VI and be named as Gomantong, Materis, Bod Tai, Keruak and Pangi Forest Reserve (Extension III) Class VI, adding that this area is important for biodiversity and genetic conservation. 

“Some 54.6 hectares of forest in Sepilok, Sandakan, and 65 hectares of forest in Sungai Dadong Kecil, Kunak, are to be constituted as Forest Reserve Class VI and be named as Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve (Extension II) Class VI and Dadong Forest Reserve Class VI, respectively.  These areas are important for wildlife habitat and for biodiversity and genetic conservation. 

“228.24 hectares of forest in Kulamba, Kinabatangan area and 33.64 hectares of forest in Sungai Segama, Kinabatangan, are constituted as Forest Reserve Class VII and be named as Kulamba Wildlife Reserve (Extension III) Class VII and Tabin Wildlife Reserve  (Extension III) Class VII, respectively, for the purpose of protection and conservation of wildlife,” he said.

The Kulamba Wildlife Reserve will be equipped with an External Centre building meant for monitoring, enforcement and research in the nearby forest reserves by the Sabah Forestry Department and security forces like the marine police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the General Operations Force (GOF). 

“Several basic amenities like office building, multipurpose hall, control post and monitoring tower will be built in this area, at the cost of RM2.1 million to be funded by the Federal Government,” he said. 

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve (Extension III) Class VII was previously forested titled land which had been taken over by the Government through funding contributed by the Rhino & Forest Fund, as it is the habitat and corridor for wildlife as well as home to several flora and fauna species, he said, adding it was reported that the endangered Yellow-necked Sea Otters can also be found there. 

Arifin said the excise will not have a significant impact on the overall size of the State forest reserve, especially when compared with the wellbeing of the people, especially those living in the villages involved. 

But while excising the forest reserves concerned, he said, the Government also has the responsibility to ensure the total size of the State forest reserve is sufficient to provide ecosystem services like supplying clean water supply of quality and sustainable, preserving the flora and fauna and also as habitat for wildlife.

“This is in line with the Government obligation to ensure about 50 per cent of the State land area under forest cover, which is also in line with the country’s commitment at the international level,” he said. 

“Therefore, the Government at the same time has also identified the areas to be gazetted as forest reserve area,” he said, adding that the State Government also thanked those non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which have raised fund and contributed to the take-over of forested land areas for conservation purpose.

Arifin said the move to excise the forest reserve areas concerned were not simply made but done for the interests and welfare of the people of Sabah, especially those in the rural area for the purpose of settlement. 

“The move followed a strict selection and inspection process. Only those forest reserves which truly have a settlement or a village since long time ago are involved in the excise,” he said, adding the rest other areas which have also been identified will be included in the next proposals to be tabled in the State Legislative Assembly in future.   

Meanwhile, Nabawan Assemblyman Datuk Bobbey Suan expressed disappointment because villages which are still in the forest reserves in Nabawan, Pensiangan area, since generations ago, were not included in the excise.  

 

He asked whether the elected representatives were involved or asked to give views in the making the plan to take out the villages in the forest reserves as mentioned by Arifin. 

This is important because the forest reserve community always asked them (elected representatives) about the matter, considering that they have been living in the forest reserves for generations. 

“Therefore I proposed that next year, when there is any plan we want to do on land in the State, especially that involving the villages, the elected representatives and customary leaders concerned need to be involved in the planning or discussion because we know better the situation in our areas,” he said.  

He appealed 18 villages and three national-type schools which are currently still in the forest reserves like Kg Siatu, Kg Babayasing, Kg Simohong, Kg Sibangali, Dobolon, Saliku, Sinapar, Kg Saliliran, Kg Kabu, Kg Pangaraan, Siwanal, Kawangku, Kg Katambalang, Sebungoh, Kg Silungai, Kg Pohon Batu, Kg Sumbiling and Kg Salarom, can be taken out from forest reserves and gazetted as a village and school areas. The schools are located at Kg Sibangali, Kg Saliliran and Kg Pohon Batu. 

Kemabong Assembylman, Jamawi Jaafar, who is also the Government Backbenchers Club Chairman, expressed concern that the created Sungai Sumanggulu Forest Reserve Class I may affect the historical Rundum area which he is currently developing as a highland tourism destination in his constituency. 

If this happened (if the forest reserve include Rundum area), he said it will not only affect the people but also all the development and tourism plans he has made and will implement. 

Balung Assemblyman Datuk Osman Jamal hoped the excise will also include land being used as a burial ground by the villages concerned, so they will have sufficient land as cemetery.

He said like in his constituency, there is a burial ground about 10 acres, which would be nice if the size can be expanded to at least 50 acres. 

 



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