Palm oil players to help Sabah plant 1 mil trees in forest reserve

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok says the federal government will support Sabah in its reforestation and wildlife rescue and conservation programmes.

KOTA KINABALU: The federal government today pledged to assist Sabah in its reforestation efforts by planting one million forest trees in the next 10 years.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said her ministry and the Sabah Forestry Department have identified a site in the east coast for the reforestation programme.

“We have identified Lower Kawag in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve with 6,500ha of degraded forest as the site.

“It (the programme) will be sponsored primarily by the palm oil players,” she told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Shafie Apdal at the end of her working visit to Sabah today.

Kok said the Malaysia Oil Palm Council (MPOC) will also donate RM1.5 million to the state Wildlife Department to support wildlife rescue and conservation in Sabah.

“We support the department’s project that aims to undertake a new population survey of orangutan and pygmy elephants by wildlife experts, scientists and researchers,” she said.

She said this was in line with the federal government’s decision to cap the oil palm cultivation area to 6.5 million hectares and to ban the conversion of forest reserve land for oil palm cultivation and planting of oil palm in peatland.

Kok also said she sought support from the state government for her ministry’s “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign launched in January.

Shafie told reporters Sabah was committed to giving its full support at all levels to ensure reforestation efforts and conservation of protected species were carried out.

Describing the palm oil industry as the backbone of the country’s economy, he said it had often received bad press outside Malaysia.

“Not all are true. In fact, in Sabah, we still have many forests and we have also banned the export of timber,” he said.