Thursday, March 29, 2012

7,024 hectares of forest reserves reclassified for natives

March 29, 2012
THOUSANDS of hectares of forest reserves will be reclassified to allow them to be used for agricultural and residential purposes by the natives.
This was made possible after the State Assembly yesterday unanimously approved a bill to amend the Forest (Constitution of Forest and Amendment) Enacment 1984 to exclude a total of 7,024 hectares from several forest reserves.
Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Radin Malleh in tabling the bill said it includes 1,048 hectares in the Ulu Telupid Class I (Protection) Reserve, which will pave the way for future issuance of communal title to the local people residing in the area.
“This area has to be excluded from the reserve as it has been used by the locals for agricultural and residential purposes, badly degraded and no longer suitable for forest reserve,” he said.
Also to be opened are 260 hectares in Lipaso Class I Forest Reserve and 2,900 hectares in Kuala Tomani Class II (Commercial) Forest Reserve, where at least 10 native villages are located.
The amendment will also see an area of 1,012 hectares in Sook Class IV (Amenity) Forest Reserve cleared for the construction of the proposed new UiTM Campus.
Radin said that for this purpose the state government would have to provide a compensation of RM2.96 billion and a replacement land of 2,000 hectares to Hybrid Plantation Sdn Bhd, the long-term license holder for the land involved.
“This will also include 796 hectares within the Tawau Class V (Mangrove) Forest Reserve, involving lands that had been given title before the reserve was gazetted, such as villages and timber processing factories.
“The exclusion of these lands is expected to resolve the land disputes that have been going on for a very long time in the area.
“An area of 1,008 hectares in Mengalong Class VI (VJR) Reserve will also be excluded, for the implementation of the Petrochemical Gas Complex project under the Sabah Oil and Gas Industrial Park (SOGIP),” he added.
Radin also informed that the government has identified 15 pieces of state land with a combined area of over 9,544 hectares to replace the converted forest reserves.
In addition, five areas in several other existing Class II forest reserves would also be reclassified to Class I (Protection), to better suit their significant roles and functions.
“An area of 54,760 hectares within the Lahad Datu part of Ulu Segama Reserve will be reclassified to Class I and renamed as Mount Louisa Reserve.
“Also to be reclassified to Class I is an area of 6,688 hectares within the Sepulut and Kalabakan reserves, which will be known as Mengilan Reserve,” he said.
Other reserves that have been identified were Maliau Buffer Zone I in the Tibow district where 46,603 hectares will be upgraded into Class I, as well as two other areas in Ulu Segama with a total area of 21,158 hectares.
Radin said the land swap and reclassification exercise would be carried out in stages, and at the end of it the total area of permanent forest reserves would be increased from 3.606 million hectares to 3.609 million hectares

Green Sabah says: I'm confident that the forest reserve can be increased significantly as planned if the land swap and reclassification exercise are carried out in stages, all the best to the Forestry Department. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harvesting of shark fins continues...

Harvesting of shark fins continues...

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is in the forefront of the move in this country to impose a ban on shark hunting and finning with State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun announcing the same last October. But fishermen and marine products traders near the Filipino market in Sinsuran either do not know or simply choose to ignore it.
A reader called up the Daily Express when he saw several hundred freshly-harvested sharks' fins being sun-dried on the traffic island along Lorong Gomantong, behind a marine products import and export business.
Masidi had said he would ask the Federal Attorney General to make the necessary amendments to the national Fisheries Act to enforce the law to protect Sabah's world class diving industry where tourists pay millions to see them off Sipadan and Mabul. Up to 100 million sharks are reportedly killed each year, compared to about five humans killed by shark attacks each year, marine scientists say.
Such a high annual kill rate has practically eliminated 80pc of all sharks from the oceans.
The campaign to end shark hunting and dropping shark fin soup from the menu is also observed by many nations today. There have recently been calls to substitute it with bird's nest soup which is more sustainable.

Green Sabah says: It sucks that fishermen and marine traders refuses to cooperate with the Sabah government's efforts to protect our sharks, I suggest the government to impose a strict law on the ban of shark hunting so that more people will pay attention to it, a heavy fine and jail term should be a good enough 'incentive' to discourage them to continue shark hunting. 

Sawit launches first biogas plant

Tawau: Sawit Kinabalu Group on Thursday officially launched its first biogas power plant at its Apas Balung estate refinery here, which has proven very effective in reducing the estate's electricity cost.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who officiated at the opening, is confident that the presence of the biogas plant will also help the Group's image as an environment-friendly organisation, apart from reducing its operational costs.
He said the State Government very much welcomed the initiative, in line with its policies and halatuju which emphasises on sustainable economic development.
"I would like to stress that the State Government is committed in developing this State without disregarding environmental conservation," he said.
He also hoped more oil palm companies would emulate the move by the Group by venturing into new fields like biogas power plant development, which not only contributes to protecting the environment but also boosts the development of renewable energy in the State.
The Group's Managing Director, Othman Walat, who was also present, said the biogas plant has helped in the Group's effort to increase its efficiency and profit to RM3.28 million per annum.
The biogas plant has helped the Apas Balung estate refinery in reducing its diesel utilisation cost by 85 per cent, he said, adding the percentage is equivalent to increasing the refinery's production income by RM1.14 million a year.
Othman said that apart from reducing the refinery's production cost, because of the diesel utilisation cost, the biogas plant was also built primarily to help reduce environmental pollution in the Balung area.
"I was informed by the surrounding residents that since the biogas plant began its operation, bad smell coming from the refinery has significantly reduced. The liquid waste discharge from the refinery also went down from 91-100ppm to 30-40ppm or equivalent to a 60 per cent reduction," he said.
He said the Group intends to continue with this effort to boost further its production income through its "turning waste into wealth" project, that is making use of the oil palm waste for various purposes.
Among its plans are to build a livestock feed production mill based on palm waste at the estate as well as seven more biogas plants for its other refineries within the next five years, he said.
This is in line with the Group's mission to create sustainable wealth by running environment-friendly business, he said, adding all these are part of fulfilling the organisation's corporate obligation.

Green Sabah says: Biogas is one of the more environmentally friendly and low cost alternative for power generation, hope that this Biogas Power Plant at Apas Balung can help improve the electricity supply issues in Sabah and yet maintain the green aspect that we hold firm to. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another way to help save rainforests - Sabah ‘biobank’

A RM15 donation will go a long way in helping to restore and protect critical wildlife habitat and forest ecosystems in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: After years of watching their precious rainforests disappear due to logging and now oil palm plantations, the public is being asked to help protect what is left by contributing to a fund through a project set up by the government.

The Malua BioBank project is pioneering a new approach to conservation which recognises that deforestation is driven by the profitability of alternative land uses. It is a unique joint-venture between the Sabah Forestry Department, Yayasan Sabah and the Eco Products Fund.

For as little as RM15, anyone can help protect the rainforest in Sabah which is critical for the long-term survival of orang-utans, pygmy elephants, sun bears and other threatened wildlife species.

The amount, equivalent to US$5, saves 50 square metres of forest, about the size of a large garage, or you can contribute RM300 (US$100) to conserve 1,000 sq m.

This can be done within minutes using a new online tool developed by Malua BioBank, a Sabah-based project restoring and protecting critical wildlife habitat and forest ecosystems.

The new approach is being touted as a way for the public to take part in rainforest habitat restoration of the 34,000 hectare (80,000 acre) Malua Forest Reserve.

Malua BioBank said the facility allows contributors to personalise their gift through online certificates featuring orang-utans, sun bears, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, rhinos and hornbills.

Malua BioBank manager, Merril Halley said that the Protect Malua site makes it easy for everyone to contribute towards rainforest conservation.

“This has to be one of most costs effective and enduring ways for individuals to contribute to the restoration and protection of prime rainforest real estate anywhere in the world.

“The new online tool also lets users learn about the importance of Malua and decide how much rainforest they would like to protect – in just one click.”

Contributions will be used to restore the degraded forest which was logged until a ban was placed on logging in 2008 by the Sabah government.

The funds will be used both for forest restoration activities over the next five years and 20% will go into the Malua Trust, an endowment that will fund protection of the site in perpetuity once the restoration work is completed.

Restoring the forest will not only provide food for wildlife, but estimates suggest it will also help lock up a massive additional eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 50 years, a statement from the project organisers said.

Innovative mechanism

Meanwhile, Sabah Forestry Department director Sam Mannan said agriculture, logging and crops like oil palm are huge and profitable sectors which cannot be stopped.

“We cannot expect to keep the rainforest standing unless there are financial drivers to do so. The Malua BioBank project works by putting a price on the region’s ecosystems,” Mannan said.

Malua’s Advisory Committee chairperson Cynthia Ong urged Malaysians, particularly in Sabah, to support the Malua BioBank, a ‘first of its kind initiative’ in the tropical rainforest world.

“Sabah has pioneered a ground-breaking and innovative mechanism for sustainable conservation financing and we would like to see individuals, families and corporations stepping up to support its success.

“The global conservation and financial worlds are watching us as we move forward with this initiative,” Ong, who is Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) executive director, said.

To find out more about how you can help preserve this Malaysian rainforest, visit


Green Sabah says: Rainforests represent a store of living and breathing renewable natural resources that for eons, by virtue of their richness in both animal and plant species, have contributed a wealth of resources for the survival and well-being of humankind. However, the inner dynamics of a tropical rainforests is an intricate and fragile system. Everything is so interdependent that upsetting one part can lead to unknown damage or even destruction of the whole. The Malua BioBank Project is a brilliant initiative to help save the rainforests. Let us support this effort by donating RM15. A little help can make a big impact.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shark hunting ban should come first, not sanctuary: Masidi

Shark hunting ban should come first, not sanctuary: Masidi

He said the proposed sanctuary would lack bite if legislation to fully ban shark hunting was not in place.Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said a ban on shark hunting should precede any plan to create a shark sanctuary off Sabah.
Thus, amendment to the Federal Fisheries Act are crucial toward implementing ban on shark hunting and finning to save the fast-depleting shark population in Sabah's waters.
"The idea of having the sanctuary is good, but it does not address the real issue.
"What good is a shark sanctuary if there are no laws to deter people from hunting shark?" he said.
Masidi said the sanctuary would only be able to protect sharks that stayed within its confines.
"It is an open sea and people will still hunt sharks outside the sanctuary.
The more effective method would be to totally ban shark hunting in Sabah," he added.
He said the draft for the proposed amendment to the Fisheries Act had already been prepared and the State was waiting to submit it to the Federal Cabinet, pending approval from the State Cabinet.
Masidi hoped the amendments would be approved, and added that the State was looking forward to implementing the ban as soon as possible.
More than 10,000 people have signed up for an online petition initiated by Sabah-based non-governmental organisation Borneo Conservancy last January to convince the state government to gazette the Semporna Shark Sanctuary.
The NGO is trying to push for the sanctuary, which covers 83 islands encompassing 1,001 dive sites including world-famous Sipadan, for the protection of sharks and other marine life in Semporna.

Green Sabah says: Hopefully he Shark Hunting ban will be fully implemented throughout Sabah so that we may have better protection of the nearly extinct sharks, the Sanctuary is a good idea actually, however our government has decided to put their priorities on the ban of shark hunting first, but I hope we could have the Shark Sanctuary which will cover the 83 islands such as Sipadan and Semporna. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

70pc of city rubbish thrown from autos

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said 70pc of rubbish in the city comes from moving vehicles and it gets worse when certain fruits are in season.
The mentality of the public is to always blame it on illegal immigrants but Masidi said immigrants surely could not afford high-end vehicles, who are one of the biggest culprits of littering.
He said there is also a problem of floating rubbish on the city's shores, which locals put the blame on Gaya Island residents.
"I dispute the claims, because most of the rubbish that floats on the sea and lands on our shores are from our rivers," Masidi said during the Ministry of Higher Education's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Love and Care for the Environment Closing Ceremony at Kota Kinabalu Polytechnic Institute here, Thursday.
"Sabah is one of the most beautiful places to be, from an environment point of view, but we have a problem with littering which ruins our rivers and dirties the city," he said.
Masidi stressed that it is time for people to stop placing the blame on others and shoulder the burden.
"It is from our attitude be it at home, during our travels, in shops, everywhere, and it should come from our own initiative, but unfortunately we don't feel that we should be responsible," he said.
Masidi praised the polytechnic for setting an example with this cleanliness programme among the youth and students, who are able to influence the public to change their mindset in regards to the environment.
Also present were Polytechnic Studies Department Chief Director Major Haji Md Nor Yusof and Ministry of Higher Education's Deputy Secretary-General Datuk Haji Omar Abdul Rahman.

Green Sabah says: Littering is a practice that should be stopped, we cannot maintain a clean environment if our people does not cooperate in keeping Sabah clean, do your social responsibility by throwing the rubbish in the designated rubbish bins and not on the floor or the roads. Keep our seas clean by not tossing rubbish in it, what a shame it would be to see our beautiful seas dirtied by litter bugs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Joint application of Danum, Maliau and Imbak for Heritage status

Kota Kinabalu: Preliminary work on nominating Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon as a World Heritage Site, has begun following a one-day workshop organized by the Sabah Foundation, here, Tuesday.

The workshop called Nomination Process of World Heritage Site is held to discuss the sites' strengths and identify it in accordance to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Outstanding Universal Values criterion.

According to a member of the nomination draft working group under the Steering Committee, Dr Waidi Sinun, the workshop resolution could influence the IUCN dossier draft, which is part of the first step in the World Heritage Site nomination processes.

"The Committee is in the midst of preparing the criteria to be included in the dossier and we are working on the details.

"So we are at the dossier nomination drafting stages, the working group has prepared a paper on the criteria so we need to discuss it today and for us to adopt it and submit it to the government," he said.

Sinun said the 133,000 ha sites would be nominated in a single heritage site which will be called DaMaI, an abbreviation of Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and the Imbak Canyon.

He said, however the DaMai is only an unofficial name tentatively agreed to by the Government after the committee had submitted about six names.

Currently the Nomination Draft Group members are Dr Fatah Amir, Dr Jamili Nais (Chairman), Dr John Tay, Dr Rahimatshah Amat, Dr Robert Ong including Sinun.

The group is also aided by Dr Kanehiro Kitayama from University of Kyoto and Dr Glen Reynolds from the Royal Society of Danum and consultant Dr Agnes Agama.

Although the workshop's resolution is not part of the formal IUCN nomination process, it is still vital since it gathers the thoughts of many individuals representing the public's interest.

There are about seven stages under the IUCN World Heritage nomination process and the State Government has already appointed a Steering Committee, solely to work on the matter.

The Steering Committee, chaired by the State Secretary, formed a Technical Committee, which consists of the Nomination Draft working group given the task to draft the nomination dossier.

The Technical Committee meanwhile is chaired by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment's Permanent Secretary while the nomination draft group consists of experts from Sabah Foundation, Sabah Parks and relevant parties, who are working on a pro-bono basis in the committee.

According to Sainun, the nomination draft group was tasked with drafting the dossier, which would lead to other subsequent steps laid out earlier in a presentation by a representative from the Department of National Heritage, Mohd. Shahrin Abdullah.

According to Shahrin the process would take at least two years.

The workshop was attended by some 60 officials from Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah Parks, Sabah Foundation, Pacos Trust, WWF and others.

GreenSabah says:I do hope that Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon will be successfully nominated as World Heritage Site, the Sabah government and environmental bodies have made efforts to conserve our nature especially these 3 areas.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

UMS to collaborate with Japanese varsity on marine science, aquaculture

 Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) on Tuesday took another step on marine conservation through its collaboration with Kinki University of Japan to initiate an international seminar on marine science and aquaculture.
UMS Borneo Marine Research Institute (BMRI) Director Dr. Saleem Mustafa said, the seminar acts as a platform for government departments and academicians to exchange knowledge about the marine ecosystem and development of aquatic food resources through sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
The three-day event was launched by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, at the Promenade Hotel here, Tuesday.
He was represented by Assistant Minister Datuk Ellron Alfred Angin.
Saleem said the event started as an annual seminar series in 2003 named 'Annual Seminar on Marine Science and Aquaculture', focusing on contemporary issues and efforts to address them.
"Due to increasing number of participants and diverse backgrounds they come from, there was a need to bring the broader issues of global importance into the scope of discussion.
"Thus the annual seminar was transformed into an international event," he said, adding that the theme this year is 'Sustainable Development and Management of Aquatic Resources in a Changing Climate'.
Towards this end, he thanked the National Oceanography Directorate under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation for sponsoring the event as well as welcomed the State Fisheries Department who recently joined the seminar.
Meanwhile, Masidi expressed hope that the seminar would examine the pressure of climate change on the marine ecosystem and holistically address the challenges facing the production and supply of safe seafood to society.
He acknowledged the rapid attention growth towards environmental conservation in Malaysia, especially Sabah due to its vast coastline, hence the interest in climate change effects on the marine ecosystem is understandable.
"As a minister dealing with three interrelated matters - tourism, culture and environment, I understand that environment is important for culture and tourism to flourish.
"Of course, societies need to adapt to the changing environment, and international seminars such as this one are necessary to examine all the pertinent issues related to environment in terms of security and well-being of human society.
"Ignorance of environmental issues at global level in the past has created an enormous damage that science is discovering today, and establishing the interconnectedness of the world's ecosystems and human activities.
"I intend to support the development of new perspectives of socio-ecological systems that respond to climate as well as social and economic stresses," he said.
At the event, BMRI also launched their newsletter called 'Surge' that aims to provide information on marine resources to all sections of society. 

GreenSabah: Environment is definitely important for culture and tourism, people of all walks of life needs to play their part in conserving environment. It is a good opportunity for UMS to collaborate with the Japanese Varsity in studying the aquaculture and marine science

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dept: 60pc of Sabah is still forested

Despite extensive landscape changes in the past, including the introduction of agriculture to reverse the over-dependence on timber, some 60 per cent of Sabah still remains under forest cover, State Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said.

The rate of deforestation between 1970 and 2010 was about 0.5 per cent a year, with its height being between 1990 and 2000 during the oil palm cultivation boom, which unfortunately also saw a direct correlation between the number of Orang Utans being sent to the rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, he said.

"Fortunately, what is most important is the fact that we did not discard the forest reserve system that we inherited. If anything, we expanded it.

"About four million hectares of Sabah remain under forest reserves, parks and wildlife sanctuaries," he said when briefing the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who visited the department's Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sepilok, Saturday.

Mannan said despite "acts of random madness of the past," rainforests have managed to recover, with biological assets largely intact, and no record of any species going extinct so far.

"The closest to extinction is the Sabah Rhino which we are trying to save through captive breeding," he added.

He also said the RDC, launched in 2007, is developed to meet objective of creating awareness on conservation and the environment as well as to promote ecotourism and recreation, education and research and development.

Mannan said the total development cost for the centre has exceeded RM25 million and approximately RM10 million spent under the 10th Malaysia Plan to further develop its facilities.

Green Sabah says:  It is vital that all remaining forest areas are protected. In this way, this valuable natural habitat can be managed on a sustainable basis and prevent any species from extinction.