KOTA KINABALU, Dec 3 — In tackling deforestation in the state, the Sabah government ensures that about 50 per cent of Sabah’s land area is always under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services like watershed areas and habitats for flora and fauna.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the overall forest cover in Sabah at the end of the 1980s was estimated at 44,750 square kilometres, slightly over 60 per cent of the Sabah’s total land area of 73,631 square kilometres.
In 2010, around 37,600 square kilometres or 51 per cent of the Sabah’s land area were covered with forest, he said.
“In combating deforestation in the state, the government is under an obligation to ensure that about 50 per cent of Sabah’s land area is always under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services like watershed areas and habitats for flora and fauna.
“The average deforestation rate of 0.75 per cent per annum from 1990 to 2010, however, has nearly halved when compared with the 1980s,” he said at the opening ceremony of ‘Wood and Biofibre International Conference 2019 here today. His speech was delivered by Sabah Infrastructure Minister Datuk Peter Anthony.
Mohd Shafie said the Sabah government was able to maintain the total forest cover over the years through its Sabah Forest Policy 2018, which stipulated that every dissolution of the forest reserve area must be replaced with an area of the same size or something bigger.
He said apart from natural forests, Sabah also has a vast area of forest plantations.
He added since 2012, Sabah has established about 226,000 ha of forest plantations, of which about 55 percent are cultivated with high-value commercial species.
The two-day conference is organised by the Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (Introp), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
UPM Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Zulkifli Idrus, in his welcoming speech, said the conference was an important platform to strengthen relationships between industries, researchers and academics.
He said it was an excellent initiative to bring together industry and academia to discuss the latest developments in wood and biofibre, from upstream agricultural topic to downstream fibre processing and product advancement, as well as the socio-economic impact of these bio-resources. — Bernama