Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sarawak biggest contributor to ‘Heart of Borneo’

MIRI: As far as the ‘Heart of Borneo’, a collective green lung initiative, is concerned, Sarawak is its largest contributor in terms of the conservation of flora and fauna when compared to Sabah, Brunei and Indonesia.

The state has come a long way in forest management practices, beginning with the establishment of the State Forest Department in 1919.

Among others, the state government is eyeing one million hectares of totally protected areas (TPA) for national parks, wildlife sanctuaries
and others.

Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said presently 80 per cent of the state, which spans 12.4 million hectares in total land mass, was still under forest cover.

He took foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to task for criticising the state’s forest policies without looking at the real picture on the ground.

He said allegations of Orang Utan destruction to make way for oil palm plantations were baseless.

“If one takes a London-Paris train, you can only see small islands of forest. Throughout the journey probably only about 10 per cent of the area are under forest cover,” he said here yesterday at a ceremony to present appointment letters to new Honorary WildLife Rangers.

Awang Tengah said Orang Utan habitats could only be found in Semengok, Sebayau-Meludam, and Lanjak Entimau, and not throughout the state as wrongly painted by these NGOs.

He added that the state’s government had a clear policy and direction in forest management, and its aims were for nearly half of the state’s land mass (six million hectares) to be under permanent forest estate (PFE) and one million hectares under TPA by 2020.

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