Friday, 5 December 2008

More orang utan after logging ban

New Straits Times, Malaysia

More orang utan after logging ban

By : Jaswinder Kaur 2008/12/05

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman witnessing Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan (left) and Sime Darby Bhd group chief sustainability officer Puvan Selvanathan (right) exchanging the memorandum of agreement yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: The orang utan and other endangered wildlife are making their presence felt at the Ulu Segama and Malua commercial forest reserves almost a year after the Sabah government slammed the brakes on logging at the two sites, giving up billions in potential revenue from timber.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said that forests at the reserves were starting to look better, a signal that the government had taken the correct step when it announced to the world that it would halt logging at Ulu Segama and Malua, which collectively are almost four times the size of Singapore."The forest itself is looking better and we see animals more often now.

We see tembadau (wild cattle) and orang utan," he said.Sabah had in March 2006 said it would stop logging by Dec 31 last year at the two forest reserves due to the high concentration of wildlife.There are an estimated 4,500 orang utan at Ulu Segama and Malua, almost half of that found in Sabah.

Mannan was speaking after signing a memorandum of agreement with Sime Darby Berhad group chief sustainability officer Puvan Selvanathan for the restoration of degraded forests on a 5,400ha site in the northern part of the Ulu Segama forest reserve.Sime Darby has pledged RM25 million to restore the habitat of the orang utan by planting indigenous tree species and developing environmental awareness programmes and exchange knowledge to improve wildlife conservation efforts.

"Sime Darby has given us the biggest-ever endowment from outside the government to restore orang utan habitats degraded by years of bad logging practices, multiple forest fires and the threat of encroachments," he said.

"Despite the poor forest condition, northern Ulu Segama is rich in orang utan because it is the last forest refuge north of the Segama river, with its surroundings now developed."With this endowment, we believe we can restore the habitat and give the orang utan a better home." Mannan also pointed out that forest restoration was an expensive business, with more than RM200 million poured in by the Sabah government over the last five years.

He added that political support was crucial in the quest for good environmental and forest governance.Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who witnessed the event, said he was pleased that Sime Darby and other organisations had come forward to assist the state in its efforts to restore degraded jungles."Orang utan and other wildlife are important to us.

"We have lost billions in (potential) royalty from logging but we took this bold step to stop logging (at Ulu Segama and Malua)."Sime Darby president and group chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid said the company was proud to participate in the conservation effort."Sabah has taken a critical leadership position. Ulu Segama is nature's gift to the world but it paid the price of development."Now the government wants to restore it and it is not going to be a simple exercise," Ahmad Zubir said.