By GM THOMAS
KOTA KINABALU: The Chief Minister has revealed that Sabah is taking affirmative steps in building a green economy, including putting in place policies to address global warming.
Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal said that Sabah is concerned over adverse climate reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has warned of catastrophic consequences in the years to come.
The Parti Warisan Sabah-led government has, since helming the administration, taken several affirmative steps to create a green economy and also ensure that its rich rainforests were fully protected as part of building a carbon sink in Borneo.
Shafie said one of the immediate measures included a ban on the export of round logs in favour of higher value downstream industries and a moratorium (suspension) on industrial agriculture in state forest reserves.
“The way Sabah state was being run by the previous administration is a good example of the abuse of natural resources,” the Chief Minister said when presenting the 2019 Sabah Budget on Friday.
“There was just too much focus on exploiting the state’s natural capital and too little attention paid to its consequences.
“Sabahans are now paying the price for that short sightedness as some communities suffer from flooding due to poor landscape management while others in rural areas continue to be left out of development.
“We ask that Sabahans bear with our administration as we try to undo some of the problems,” he said.
A recent statement by Shell chief executive office Ben van Beurden pointed out that planting more trees was the only solution to fighting the extreme effects of climate change, and previously Shafie had said that the ban on the export of round logs was a major step towards preserving its natural forests.
He said the move was necessary though it drawn concerns for its buyers in Asia while also compounded by investigations into questionable licenses issued to timber companies.
The Chief Minister has been resolute in his opinion that the exploitation of Sabah’s natural resources must bring more benefits to her citizens especially from jobs in downstream industries.
In addressing the findings of the IPCC, he further stated that Sabah has the capacity to be a carbon sink under his administration but that it cannot do it alone.
“Fortunately for Sabah and the rest of the world, we still possess large tracts of primary forests but our ambition is to grow more forests to provide safe habitats for our iconic flora and fauna.
“We cannot do this alone and welcome the global community to grow this carbon sink together in Sabah to fight climate change.”
Sabah is home to one of the most ancient ecosystems in the world. Protected areas like Maliau Basin and Danum Valley as well as Imbak Canyon are some of the most important areas for tropical biodiversity globally.
In a notable departure from the previous administration’s focus on Totally Protected areas, the new administration is working towards a land use plan that will address the dual needs of development and conservation.