KOTA KINABALU: Sungai ISME is just a small 1.5 km river but its name signifies a special bond between Malaysia and Japan via a joint cooperation in the restoration of degraded mangroves in Sabah.
The river, a tributary of Sungai Loboh near Kampung Padas in Sandakan district, was named after a non-profit and governmental scientific society based in Okinawa, Japan – the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystem (ISME).
ISME is currently involved in the second-phase of the collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) to carry out mangrove rehabilitation project in the State since 2011.
Sungai ISME is also part of the 26.5 hectares (ha) of mangroves encroached by oil palm plantations in six locations in Sandakan district. The total area of degraded mangrove that have been rehabilitated under the first phase of the SFD-ISME project is 150 ha.
Dr Joseph Tangah, a Senior Research Officer of SFD’s Forest Research Centre in Sepilok, said the mangrove planting in Sandakan involved Sg Lalasan, Sg Batang, Tg Pisau, Samawang and Sg Luboh.
THE STATE OF MANGROVE FOREST IN SABAH
Tangah, who is also the project leader for mangroves rehabilitation in Sabah, elaborated further that planting was most extensive at Sungai Lalasan (12 ha), followed by Sg Batang (5.5 ha) and Tanjung Pisau (4.5 ha).
Sabah has about 338,000 ha of mangroves vegetation within the State’s 30 Forest Reserves (FR) (Class V), the largest being the Kuala Bonggaya and Kuala Labuk FR (56,441 ha).
The other is the 43,759 ha at Trusan Kinabatangan, which form part of the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama wetland Ramsar site.
Dr Tangah pointed out the total mangrove forest in Sabah account for 60 percent of Malaysia’s total and 7.6 percent of the global mangroves.
In July 2010, a delegation from the ISME headed by Prof Shigeyuki Baba, visited the SFD in Sandakan to discuss on the implementation of a mangrove rehabilitation project in Sabah.
REPLANTING 50 HA ANNUALLY
The visit led to the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the two organisations in November 2010 in Kota Kinabalu to carry out the first phase (2011-2014) of the mangrove rehabilitation project.
Funded by Tokyo-based conglomerate Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd, the project is implemented by SFD with technical guidance from ISME.
The conglomerate has been implementing its Mangrove Planting Project since 1999, in several Asian countries including Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Phillipines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Continue reading at: Bringing back the mangroves in Sabah.