State govt commits RM62 million for forest restoration in Sarawak

Abang Johari (seated centre) addressing a press conference.

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 23: The state government has allocated RM62 million under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) for Forest Department Sarawak to implement forest restoration programmes throughout the state.

If this programme is implemented well, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that the state can then reduce reliability on logging activities and the timber industry which had in the past contributed immensely to the economy.

“With 7.9 million hectares or 63 per cent of Sarawak covered in forest, the state has a bright future in exploring new sources of income such as carbon trading.

“In fact, this programme has been launched since June 2019 and to date, over 10 million trees comprising 50 species have been planted on 9,732.14 hectares of areas throughout Sarawak in over a year,” he said during the state-Level Greening Malaysia Programme Planting 100 Million Trees Campaign held at Bukit Siol here today.

The replanting, he added, covered logging areas, plantations, forest reserves, totally protected areas, Native Customary Rights (NCR) land as well as private land.

Under this campaign which is part of the state’s forest landscape restoration programme, Abang Johari disclosed that Sarawak is targeting to plant 35 million trees or 35 per cent of the 100 million trees to be planted in Malaysia throughout 12MP from 2021 until 2025.

“We are confident to achieve the target in five years based on our replanting record implemented since 2019 as it is the aspiration of ours and the people to green up areas in Sarawak including areas which had been worked out and trees felled.

“We want our local people to be actively involved in this replanting exercise especially in their areas with seedlings from our nurseries.

“We want Sarawak to be balanced in terms of development and greenery which is why environmental sustainability is given focus under the post-Covid-19 policy with efforts in replanting trees,” he said.

To enhance restoration efforts, Abang Johari has also instructed Forest Department Sarawak to take a new approach in replanting, apart from redeveloping three existing nurseries namely Sabal Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) Centre in Simunjan, Sarawak Tree Improvement Centre in Sibu and Forest Research Station in Niah.

“The government will also develop two more new nurseries at Kayangeran in Lawas and Bintawa in Kuching here.

“We also encourage all sectors to develop their own nurseries,” he said, calling on local communities to participate in this initiative to supply local tree seedlings with commercial value or planting services and silvilculture treatment.

Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Utility (Water Supply) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Forest Department Sarawak director Datu Hamden Mohammad and Kuching City North Hall (DBKU) Mayor Datu Junaidi Reduan were among those present. — DayakDaily