Sabah Shares Putrajaya’s Views On Preserving Permanent Forest Reserves

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal (photo) said the state government shared the federal government’s view in not allowing the expansion of oil palm plantations into permanent forest reserves.

In fact, he said, the state government, for the time being, would focus on rubber, fruit plantation, timber, cocoa and other crops.

Any future plantation development, including oil palm plantations, would only be carried out on agricultural land or degraded land, he said in a statement.

“The Sabah state government believes that balancing development and conservation to achieve a sustainable economy is paramount for Sabahans today and a hundred years from now.

“This is exemplified by the ban on export of low economic return round logs since July 2018 as part of our efforts to protect wildlife and to reform the forestry sector. A downstream business in timber products has been shown to bring more benefits to local communities,” he said.

He said Sabah was in full agreement with the Federal Government in upholding Malaysia’s pledge to the international community that the country would keep its promise of maintaining 50 per cent of its landmass as forest cover, which was made at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and reiterated in several major international conferences, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.

According to Shafie, Sabah would work together with the federal government to enhance sustainable forest management practices to revitalise the sector as an important economic contributor to the country.

“In view of the volatility of palm oil prices in a competitive edible oil environment, the Sabah state government will encourage and assist local farmers and smallholders to switch to other cash crops with better local and global demands,” he added.

The move, Shafie said, was to protect the livelihood of smallholders against over-exposure to the fluctuations of the global palm oil prices which were beyond the control of the state.