About two-thirds of Sarawak still under forest cover due to good policies — Forest director

Hamden (seated left) in a photo with Abang Johari (seated centre), other senior ministers and attendees of the launching of the Forest Landscape Restoration Programme.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 15: Sarawak has managed to preserve 63 per cent of its land under forest cover even though its logging and timber industry is now more than 100 years old.

Sarawak Forest director Hamden Mohammad pointed out that this was possible because the state had a sustainable forest management policy that is balanced with the state’s development plans.

“The Forest Landscape Restoration Programme implemented today is widely promoted by the global community in addressing deforestation issues due to competition with development activities that must be carried out.

“This is one of the programmes that have been planned to restore the integrity of the forest ecosystem and improve the well-being of the degraded forest,” he said at the launching of the Sarawak Forest Landscape Restoration Programme by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at Sabal Agroforestry Centre near Sri Aman today.

Hamden emphasised that this initiative had long been implemented, but the concept of implementing the restoration programme today was even more comprehensive as a result of discussions held at the Sarawak Forest Restoration Forum in March 2017.

After the forum, the Sarawak Forestry Department took proactive measures to enhance the delivery of the programme, such as redeveloping tree nursery sites at Sabal Agroforestry Centre, Sarawak Tree Improvement Centre at Jalan Oya in Sibu and at the Forest Research Centre in Niah, Miri.

“Through all the nurseries, we have now approximately 300,000 saplings from various indigenous species ready to be provided for the success tree planting programmes or campaigns, including for distribution to any party needed to make this programme a success.

“In the process of preparing the tree saplings, the department had also engaged the local communities, especially in supplying tree saplings and seedlings needed for the nurseries. In addition, locals also work in their respective nurseries,” he added.

The department, he continued, had implemented tree planting programmes across the state with cooperation from all parties, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local communities.

“For the record, since 1990 until today, a total of 634 million trees have been planted throughout Sarawak,” he revealed.

“Apart from tree planting activities, the department also implemented outreach programmes aimed at promoting the importance of environmental conservation and greening of the land.”

Citing a study, Hamden elaborated that a mature tree could supply oxygen for the needs of four adults.

“As such, we are very fortunate to live in a state with a lot of trees and abundant forests, unlike other developing countries such as China, for example, which is facing serious air pollution crisis in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. People who want fresh air need to pay a great deal of money for bottled fresh air.

“So, apart from hydrogen gas from water resources, perhaps bottled fresh air from Borneo can be another potential revenue for Sarawak, which has a vast forest with trees,” he suggested.

The event also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sarawak Forest Department and various parties, including Shell Bhd, Sarawak Energy Bhd and Japan-Malaysia Association, to preserve and conserve the environment in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Sri Aman MP Dato Masir Kujat and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources Datu Dr Wan Lizozman Wan Omar were among those present. — DayakDaily