Monday, July 4, 2011
This is the 120 million years old tropical rain forest in Sabah, The Danum Valley
Sabah Chief Minister recently on 28th June 2011 delivered a speech at the 6th Forest Stewardship Council, FSC General Assembly Gala Dinner in Kota Kinbalau.
This is the speech read by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan. According to the speech, Sabah is well on track towards sustainable forest management. Sabah has approximately 1 million hectares of tropical forests.
2. Sabah is indeed honoured to be chosen as the host for the 6th Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) General Assembly, competing with some of the best in this region. This is a golden opportunity for us here in Sabah to experience and update ourselves on the way the FSC works. It is also the perfect platform for us to share with distinguished members of the FSC and delegates at this Assembly on what we have achieved here in Sabah, particularly in terms of forest management and our efforts in promoting forest certification in the state.
03. Our association with the FSC dates back to over a decade ago following the certification of Deramakot Forest Reserve in July 1997. I am proud to share with you that Deramakot is the first lowland mixed-dipterocarp tropical forest in the world to be certified under the FSC certification scheme. We are very pleased to share with you that 14 years on, this gold standard certification is still in place, making Deramakot the longest certified tropical rainforest in the world.
04. This is indeed a success story for us here in Sabah. It is a fact that our experience with Deramakot now serves as an important catalyst in spreading Sustainable Forest Management practices, which we adopted in 1997, to the state’s 3.6 million hectares of forest reserves. In addition, although maintaining certification is a challenging task as our work at Deramakot has shown, we are committed in moving forward the need to certify other forest reserves in Sabah.
05. Following the implementation of Sustainable Forest Management practices, the way Sabah manages its forests has improved remarkably, particularly in terms of phasing out short term logging licences which did not adhere to sustainability principles. Through new practices, long term forest management plans were designed, reduced impact logging was introduced, and we started protecting High Conservation Value Forests home to diverse wildlife and plants, and which also serve as watersheds. By committing to sustainable ways of logging, Sabah has also been able to safeguard the interests of local communities whose lives depend on the forest.
06. Switching from conventional ways of logging to sustainably harvesting timber was perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that the State Government had to make when the idea was first brought up. We were hugely dependent on timber for revenue, and opting for Sustainable Forest Management meant making sacrifices such as losing short term monetary gains, and doing away with old ways of logging. Time and resources were instead allocated to finding the best ways to harvest timber without negatively impacting the environment and communities. The most practical and pragmatic ways of doing things are continuously addressed as we learn newer things from our experience in sustainably managing forests in Sabah.
07. Despite uncertainties when we embarked on the bold decision to push for a sustainably harvested forest, I am glad that Sabah has passed the litmus test and has proven the naysayers wrong. Sustainable Forest Management is now accepted and the goal of the Sabah Forestry Department to attain full certification for forest reserves by 2014, is starting to bear fruit.
08. To date, we have eight hundred thirty nine thousand four hundred and seventy seven (839,477) hectares of our forest areas under some form of certification. Of this, some three hundred seventy three thousand six hundred and twenty (373,620) hectares are certified as well-managed forests under schemes accredited to the FSC. This includes the recently certified fifty thousand and seventy (50,070) hectare Tangkulap Forest Reserve (FMU17A), and the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves covering a total of two hundred forty one thousand and ninety eight (241,098) hectares. The latter is one of our most meaningful initiatives as it will help conserve a habitat for Orang Utans. I would like to congratulate the Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan and his team for a job well done.
09. The journey towards placing these areas under certification has not been easy. I must take this opportunity to thank WWF’s Malaysia Forest Trade Network and partners for your support. I was also made to understand that support has been extended to cover another 260 thousand hectares of production forest reserves within the Yayasan Sabah concession, which is also part of the UNDP-GEF project on “Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-Use Forest Landscape in Sabah.”