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Sabah Forestry Dept, UNDP sign MoU
Published on: Thursday, November 13, 2014
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Sabah Forestry Dept, UNDP sign MoU
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Forestry Department and UNDP Malaysia on Wednesday signed a 'milestone' Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in preparation for the development phase of a massive 261,264-hectare Government of Malaysia–United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility (GoM-UNDP-GEF) project in central Sabah.

It is an innovative landscape management model project that promises to transform the management of the vast landscape, which carries a cargo of the most important remaining biodiversity in Borneo.

Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan signed on behalf of the Sabah State Government, while James George Chacko, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Malaysia, signed for UNDP, in conjunction with the two-day 17th Malaysian Forestry Conference held at Sutera Magellan, witnessed by Hari Ramalu Ragavan -UNDP Programme Manager.

"If implemented well, the project will be a model of vast multiple use rainforest landscape management for the rest of the tropical world, especially Southeast Asia," Chacko said in a post signing press conference.

The project reaffirms the commitment of the Sabah Forestry Department (the implementing partner) and the UNDP to implement and to achieve the project's key objective, which is to institutionalise a multi-use forest landscape planning and management model that brings the management of critical protected areas and connecting landscapes under a common management umbrella.

The implementation will be sustainably funded by revenues generated within the area, according to a press statement issued in conjunction with the MoU signing.

The quarter-million-hectare project site is located within Yayasan Sabah's Sustainable Forest Management Licence Agreement Area (SFMLA) in Kalabakan-Gunung Rara Forest Reserves.

First signed in June 2012, assistance from GEF for this six-year project will strengthen the conservation of this largest area of mostly contiguous forest in Sabah and one of the remaining forest landscapes in Borneo.

The GEF's intervention amounts to US$4.4 million with co-financing (US$19.5 million) from implementing partners, that is, the Sabah Forestry Department and WWF-Malaysia.

Under the MoU, both parties will undertake to work together in deciding on the concrete forms of activities of the agreements, which amongst others include the following:

O Revive plans for the southern block of mosaic plantation to reduce its gross area to <15,000 hectares and retain a substantial (mostly >5km wide), fully protected natural forest buffer (with Class1 Forest Reserve protection status) to the Maliau Basin Conservation Area.

O Establish a >7000-hectare corridor between the INIKEA (Sg Tiagau Forest Reserve) area and Mt Magdalena Forest Reserve to maintain north-south connectivity of natural forest areas within the project landscape.

O Confirm the principle of land-use 'flexibility', that is the land use can be modified on the basis of ecological and economic models developed during project implementation - with and changes made only in the context of enhancing or further protecting biodiversity and promoting landscape connectivity in the long term.

O Develop a transparent, auditable mechanism for the re-investment of a sufficient portion of the revenues generated within the landscape, over an agreed time period, to support conservation, mitigation and restoration activities adequate to satisfy both the Sabah Government's co-financing commitments and the project's agreed no net loss of biodiversity target; and

O Towards the end of the project, project outcomes including financial statistics on revenue generated for conservation and maps showing the agreed land-use patterns will be publicised and disseminated through public media, conference papers and academic journals.

The commitment undertakings should lead the GoM-UNDP-GEF project potential to provide a highly relevant case study that reflects many of the major production, mitigation and conservation challenges facing policy makers and land management agencies across Southeast Asia, according to the press release.

Caption: Mannan and Chacko at the MoU signing.


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