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Hajiji: Sabah’s forest conservation and restoration efforts need total support from all

KOTA KINABALU: Forest conservation and restoration plans by the Forestry
Department need to be supported by all quarters, particularly concessionaires of the Sustainable Forest Management License Agreements (SFMLA) or Forest Management Units (FMU), downstream industry players and related NGOs.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor said commendations must be given to the SFMLA or FMU concessionaires who have maintained their compliance certification in forest management as well as to all conservation partners for their contributions to the state conservation agenda.

“I believe the Sabah Forestry Department with cooperation and involvement from all of you will be able to continue the excellence in Sabah’s forest conservation and restoration efforts towards attaining sustainable management of our forest for posterity,” he said.

Speaking at the 2021 Forestry Appreciation Reception at the Sabah International
Convention Centre (SICC) here last night (Tuesday), Hajiji called upon the State Forestry Department to play an active role in spurring development of ecotourism that has been identified as a major economic pillar in the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ).

“As mentioned by the Forest Chief Conservator (Datuk Frederick Kugan) earlier, ecotourism and forestry are connected to each other.

“Our forest is habitat to a wide range of biodiversity, where we can find among others the tallest dipterocarp trees in the world as well as orang utans, elephants, bears and Tembadau. All these are major attractions for domestic and international tourists to come to Sabah.

“But, I believe, as an international-level ecotourism sector, there are still many that should be explored and improved, more so after the pandemic,” he said.

From the green sustainable network perspective, the Chief Minister hoped Sabah’s forest will continue to function as the best for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative.

“It is also in consonance with the aspirations of the SMJ that the forest and biodiversity conservation and preservation be emphasised not just for the benefit of Sabah, country but also for the world,” he said.

To this end, Hajiji commended the Forestry Department for the initiative in making the initial steps toward achieving green sustainability, which he described as a smart move.

By ensuring 30 per cent or 2.2 million hectares of Sabah’s forest to be a Totally Protected Area by year 2025, he said it would complement the efforts to create a corridor and solve the forest reserves connectivity issue throughout the State.

Hajiji also took note of Kugan’s remark on the Forestry Department’s initiatives in reinventing the forestry sector in order to bring high impact social and economic benefits to the community, which included looking into generating income through non-wood products such as carbon credit, hydro green energy development, commercialisation of researches, reviewing non-progessive SFMLAs or FMUs and restructuring of the timber industry sector to make it more inclusive as well as drawing up a forest plantation transformation plan.

“As occupants/owners of this land, we know best how to manage our forest. I believe the Forestry Department as the agency entrusted in managing these resources have taken all aspects into consideration, in line with the sustainable forest management, to meet the needs of the present and future generations,” he said.

Earlier, the Chief Minister also stressed upon the importance of character building especially in observing to a high level of integrity among personnel.

“Public sector and departments entrusted with keeping confidential government information as well as those with decision-making powers must have integrity.

“The anti-corruption plan that has been drawn up by the government will be the benchmark for all ministries, departments and agencies,” he said.

Also present were Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Deputy Chief
Minister/Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Deputy
Chief Minister/Minister of Industrial Development, Technical Advisors to the Chief Minister – Datuk Sam Mannan (Forestry) and Datuk Darrel Webber (Climate Change) and State Chief Forest Conservator Datuk Frederick Kugan.

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