Tuesday, 15 January 2008

No more logging at Malua, Ulu Segama


No more logging at Malua, Ulu Segama

14 January, 2008

Kota Kinabalu: Commercial logging operations at the wildlife-rich Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves stopped on Dec 31.

But logging companies have been given extra time to take out the felled timber.

Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said ongoing rehabilitation work at both forest reserves, three times the size of Singapore, were being accelerated even as the logging companies continued to transport out the timber.

"They couldn't remove all the stocks because of heavy rainfall in November and December," he said.

"We felt it would be better to allow them more time to remove the logs instead of letting them rot in the jungles."

He said rehabilitation of the two forest reserves totalling 237,777ha near the east coast Lahad Datu district which began last year would be speeded up this year.

Mannan said that last year, silvicultural works (tending of existing trees) were carried out in an area of some 4,000ha within both reserves while a similar area would be covered this year.

In addition, native trees species such as keruing, seraya and kapor were planted last year over some 400ha in both forest reserves, known to be home to diverse wildlife such as sun bears, gibbons, tambadau or wild buffaloes, Borneo pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos and orang-utans.

"We intend to increase the planting area to some 1,500ha in 2008," Mannan said, adding that the rehabilitation work would cost several million ringgit.

"The silvicultural works cost about RM350 per hectare while the planting works which include site preparation and others cost about RM2,500 per hectare," Mannan said.

Logging had been carried out at both forest reserves for more than 30 years and operations were stopped as recently as five years ago.

Timber extraction, however, resumed and in March 2006, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman announced that Ulu Segama and Malua were being bequeathed as Malaysia's biodiversity gift to the world by the end of last year.

Environmentalists voiced their alarm at the resumption of logging operations, which they said would affect the wildlife there.

A State Government 2003 report had stated that there were about 800 orang-utan in Malua while Ulu Segama was home to about 2,000 of the primates.