Malaysia: Two forest reserves reclassified

The Star 22 Jun 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Tracts of forests surrounding one of Sabah's remaining pristine areas are being upgraded as conservation zones, thus guaranteeing more protection for the precious resources.

This came about as two commercial forest reserves in the Maliau Basin, known as Sabah's Lost World, are being reclassified as class 1 protection areas after the state assembly amended the Forestry Enactment at the end of its four-day meeting on Thursday.

Under the amendment, 3,265ha of the Gunung Rara forest reserve class II and 19,870ha of the Kalabakan forest reserve class II are on track to be reclassified as the Tambalunan forest reserve class 1 and Sungai Tiagau forest reserve class 1 respectively.

Class 1 forest reserves are totally protected areas meant for conservation while class II are forests designated for commercial usage such as logging or replanting.

“These areas are of high conservation value and would serve as buffer zones for the Maliau Basin,” said Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Ellron Angin.

The reclassification exercise was part of an expansion of conservation areas in the state by more 70,000ha under the amendment.

Ellron, who tabled the amendment, said the largest chunk involved reclassifying 33,969ha of the Malua forest reserve from class II to a class 1 protection area.

“This area serves as an important gene bank as the site of the Malua bio-bank project and a key habitat for the orang utan,” he said.

The state, he said, was moving towards protecting the high conservation values of an area known as Gunung Rara with its reclassification as a protection forest reserve class 1 and be known as the Mount Magdelena Forest Reserve.

Elron said that 6,429ha of a coastal forest at Menumbok in southwestern Sabah would be constituted as a mangrove forest reserve class V under the amendment.

“This area is suitable for research, education, flora and fauna conservation and protection of marine life,” he added.

Under the same amendment, nearly 1,000ha of degraded and encroached areas were removed from class 1 forest reserves.

These include 720ha from the Mount Wullerdorf forest reserve and 228ha from the Ulu Kalumpang forest reserve.

“The areas are being excised for the purpose of socio-economic projects,” Ellron said.

Govt lauded for forest reserve amendments
Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 23 Jun 13;

RECLASSIFICATION: Political courage essential for balanced development, say agencies

KOTA KINABALU: THE Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) applauded the state government's move to protect and preserve five forests measuring more than 70,000ha across the state.

The State Assembly had on Thursday passed an amendment to the Forests (Constitution of Forest Reserves and Amendment) Enactment 1984 to reclassify four reserves, which were described as having high conservation value. The fifth reserve is a new classification.

The areas reclassified as Class I forest reserves were Malua in Lahad Datu (33,969ha), Mount Magdalena (6,665ha) and Sungai Tiagau (19,870ha) in Tawau, and Tambulanan (3,265ha) in Pensiangan.

Malua Forest Reserve plays host to the world's largest tropical conservation bank that rehabilitates orang utan and other species under threat.

Bora executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne said the status elevation of Mount Magdalena and Sungai Tiagu would act as a buffer zone for the Maliau Basin, Imbak Canyon and Danum Valley conservation areas.

In a statement on Friday, he said the amendment also covered other aspects, including the addition of 6,429ha of previously unprotected mangrove forests in Menumbok, into the forest reserve system.

Junaidi said this would help sustain the fisheries of the Brunei Bay area by protecting natural nurseries.

"Now, it is up to other relevant authorities to ensure that the number of fishes and prawns are brought to sustainable levels."

Leap executive director Cynthia Ong said political courage was essential to balanced development and sustainability.

Citing the death of 14 Borneon pygmy elephants at Gunung Rara Forest reserve in Tawau recently, Ong said non-governmental organisations had to play their part and collaborate with the government in efforts to conserve and protect wildlife.

She said along with other NGOs and research organisations, Leap had urged various timber and oil palm plantations in the Gunung Rara Forest reserve to work towards gaining Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.

"We wish to remind Forest Management Unit (FMU) licence holders, and both oil palm and timber plantation companies at the borders of the newly upgraded areas of their responsibilities.

"Every effort must be made to ensure there is no encroachment into these forest reserves by poachers."