Sarawak to expand HoB share by 400,000ha

Abang Johari (second right) launches the Heart of Borneo NTFP Carnival 2017 at the Kuching Waterfront as Awang Tengah (third right) and others look on.

KUCHING: Sarawak’s share of forest areas in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative will be expanded to 2.5 million ha, as the state steps up its forest conservation efforts.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak currently has 2.1 million ha of gazetted forest areas under the HoB project that was signed in 2007 between Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

The additional 400,000ha will cover areas in the Kelingkang Range and Bungo Range including Gunung Pueh, Gunung Gading, Tanjung Datu National Park and Samunsan Wildlife Sanctuary in southern Sarawak.

“The Heart of Borneo project is an initiative to create sustainable development and conservation of the ecosystem in a massive landscape of forest areas bordering Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan.

“The state government is very committed to conserving its forest and environment, especially through HoB,” Abang Johari said at the opening of the HoB non-timber forest product (NTFP) carnival 2017 at the Kuching Waterfront here, today.

The additional gazetted areas will raise Sarawak’s forest areas in HoB by some 20 per cent out of 26.5 million ha.

The chief minister also advised the state timber industry players to enhance their planted forest projects to strengthen the supply of feedstock for the timber industry.

On a related note, Abang Johari said the government is looking to adopt the land utilisation management system design by Estonia for the state’s conservation and forest management efforts.

The system, which calculates analytic data on land use, type of soil and plant species, will devise simulations and projections of tree growth. This will help the state better manage its tree replanting efforts.

Abang Johari said the state is also looking to introduce new tertiary courses in genetic engineering, molecular biology as well as 3D printing to support sustainable forest management and forest industry growth.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the HoB initiative aimed to create sustainable forest management, good management of natural resources, sustainable land use and agriculture as well as community-based rural poverty eradication programmes and biodiversity conservation.

This year’s carnival, from Oct 26-30, features over 100 traders of various NTFPs including food products such as rice, clothing items, rattan products, herbs, herbal oils and others.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a wide range of handicrafts including beads, paintings on tree bark, wallets, handbags, hats, bracelets, necklaces and other accessories. — DayakDaily