Malaysia: RM4bil to link forests

PATRICK LEE The Star 5 Dec 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia wants to keep the peninsula’s forests linked to each other as part of its environment plan, a feat that will cost the Federal Government at least RM4bil.

Linking the forests together to create a forest range from the Thai border to Johor would keep its biodiversity safe.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic) said the RM4bil bill would go towards acquiring the land from the states to meet that goal.

“This amount is to create the corridor for all the clustered forested areas cut by development and plantations,” he told The Star in an interview.

Dr Wan Junaidi was touching on First World expectations over developing nations’ carbon emissions in the run up to COP21 climate change talks in Paris, which he will attend later this week.

Another point that he will emphasise at the talks will be that Malaysia still had 54% of forest cover.

“I am going to make a speech in Paris to say that we’re going to retain that 50% forest cover, and we’re not going to reduce that.”

Forests can act as carbon sinks. Deforestation is one of the top causes of carbon emissions worldwide.

The Government previously mooted an idea called the Central Forest Spine: a Peninsular forest range from the Thai border to Johor.

One of its goals is to make sure that the country’s different forests are linked to each other since isolated forests may not be as rich in biodiversity and trees.

For the Spine idea to work, the forests have to be linked and there are 37 linkages in total.

He said that states here were not against the Spine idea; only the question of handing it over to the Federal Government.

“The negotiations are still definitely on between my ministry and the state governments,” Dr Wan Junaidi added.

On Sabah and Sarawak, Wan Junaidi said both states were in support of the Heart of Borneo plan, which will involve reforesting large parts of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

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