S’wak Forestry Corporation, Sunway University ink MOU on mangrove forest management using drones

Prof Poppema (left) and Zolkipli (right) exchange MOU while (from second left) Len Talif, Abang Arabi and Karimata look on at the event held at Hilton Hotel Kuching on May 12, 2023.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, May 12: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) will use advanced Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) drone technology to study mangrove forest health in Kuching Wetlands National Park.

The corporation has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sunway University to embark on the project with an international grant from Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) funded by the Government of Japan.

Deputy Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Sarawak, Datuk Len Talif Salleh, said the project dubbed Category II is conducted based on the successful APT Category I project carried out in Rajang mangrove national park.

“For the Rajang Delta site, it takes about three years. For the Ramsar site (Kuching Wetlands National Park), it will be another two years which means the whole project would be a five-year programme.

“There will be a lot of continuous studies to be carried out depending on the outcome of this programme,” he said at a press conference after officiating the Asia Pacific Telecommunity Category II kick-off and MOU exchange between SFC and Sunway University held at Hilton Hotel here today.

He also mentioned that the project is part of the Sarawak government’s efforts to manage its resources and maintain its environment or the forest in pristine conditions.

Through drone technology, it collects data on assessing forest health, identifying tree species, and curbing illegal activities in the area.

He further said there are at least 100,000 hectares of mangrove forest in Sarawak, with the largest being in the Rajang Delta areas in Sarikei, followed by Kuching Division and Lawas area in Limbang Division.

Len Talif further said in the 1960s and 1970s, Sarawak used to cut its mangroves and apply them with wood chips, but the routine stopped in the 1970s.

“Now, the Japanese companies (Aerosense Inc. and Funlead Corp.) are coming back to help us on how to restore and provide funding on how to monetise that asset in different ways,” he added.

Amongst those present were Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia, Karimata Atsushi; Sunway University president Prof Sibrandes Poppema; SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton; and deputy chief executive officer Abang Arabi Abang Aimran. — DayakDaily