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Jumbo deaths not in TAS areas
Published on: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
By: David Thien
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KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (Matta) asked Timber Association of Sabah (TAS) invited speakers at the ‘Forest Plantation, Processing and Sabah’s Economic Future Forum’ question and answer session’ to explain the recent spate of Pygmy elephant fatalities by gunshots with tusks sawn off whether their association and members were concerned and acted accordingly as the matter affected tourism. 

However,  Manager of Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd, Bryant Wong, said as far as the facts showed, the recent elephant deaths did not happen within the forest plantations of TAS members.

He is a firm believer in “bringing back the natural and managing it sustainably.” He said that value equates sustainability.

 “Our members participated in the Sabah government’s Heart of Borneo initiative and have ensured forest connectivity for wildlife,” he said. What was unsaid concerns another type of monoculture cash crop plantation industry’s workers who were arrested recently over suspicion of causing the fatalities.

Wong had earlier pondered on why such killings occurred and spoken about the socio-economic conditions that could have led to people seeking monetary gain by such deeds, as Sabah is one of the poorest states in Malaysia with weak rural economies.

He listed out other social issue indicators like high cost of living, unemployed graduates, inequality, brain drain, market issues, poaching, land use change and environmental issue indicators like landscape change and climate change effects.

Sabah Forestry Department’s Head of Research Dr Robert Ong moderating a session, said only Sabah Softwood has had issues with elephants, not other forest plantations.

Prof. Roger Meder urged caution on the high return-on-investment hype about planting paulownia trees in Sabah, explaining the history of the paulownia tree planting in Australia and New Zealand that faced issues on quality and the limited market demand for log export.

According to Prof. Meder, “50 per cent of the world’s hardwood timber harvest could come from eucalyptus plantations by 2030,” citing the Eucalypt Sawlog Market Outlook.

 “If the 19th century was the century of steel, and the 20th the century of concrete, then the 21st century is about engineered timber.”

Speaker Mike Janssen was asked to explain his take on importance of consistency in government’s forestry policy, and he mentioned the recent ban on the export of logs from Sabah which had caused losses until getting an exemption as well as the cancellation of jetty operation license and now renewed.



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