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KOTA KINABALU, April 8 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor gave an assurance that the ban on exporting round logs introduced by the previous Warisan administration is still in force.
Hajiji said the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government felt the ban’s aim to help locals get access to supply of raw material was still beneficial to the local timber downstream industry.
“We will look into it. But the ban is still being enforced,” he said when asked about the state government’s stand on the issue during his visit to Sandakan today.
The ban was a controversial move by his predecessor Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal almost immediately after taking office in 2018.
It was received with mixed feelings by timber industry players. Some applauded the ban, feeling glad by the new government’s move to curb what they say as monopoly of Sabah’s natural resources.
Shafie had said that the ban was to help local furniture producers and other downstream activities stay afloat.
He also cancelled timber concession contracts which he felt was lopsided and unfair to the state.
Today, Hajiji announced that his government is looking to develop non-logging forest activities as alternative revenue sources for the state.
These include eco-tourism, payment of ecosystem services, mangrove and fisheries, carbon transaction, non-timber including herbs and pharmaceutical industry.
“The forest is no longer just for timber but it is more than that. We can generate more economic opportunities particularly those based on green sustainability by protecting and conserving our natural forests,” he said.
He also promised to continue replanting trees to restore degraded forests throughout Sabah this year.
About 101,038 hectares of degraded forests have been identified for reforestation in Sabah.
Sabah has the largest forest area nationwide, accounting for 65 per cent of the 18 million hectares of forest land in Malaysia, followed by Sarawak with 62 per cent and peninsular Malaysia with 44 per cent.
No less than 3.8 hectares or 52 per cent of Sabah’s total area have been gazetted as forest reserves, Sabah Parks and wildlife sanctuary.