MESSAGE BY CHIEF CONSERVATOR OF FORESTS
It gives me great pleasure and honor to welcome all internet users to the official website of the Sabah Forestry Department. This website aims to serve as an efficient communication platform whereby internet users are able to acquire useful information or contact us to request for any other information that are not uploaded in this website. The Sabah Forestry Department is entrusted to manage forests and regulate all forestry activities in Sabah. Since its establishment, the Sabah Forestry Department envisioned the realization of the concept of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), relentlessly aiming to effectively and efficiently plan and implement the State’s forest resources in accordance with the principles of SFM. Sabah is committed to ensure that at least fifty percent (50%) of Sabah’s land mass is designated and protected for sustainable forest use and tree cover for environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and socio–economic well–being.
Allow me to provide a quick update on where we are now. For information, about sixty five percent (65%) of Sabah’s land mass is still forested with more than 3.8 million hectares of forests have been legally gazetted as permanent forest reserves, parks and wildlife conservation areas. These protected areas represent about fifty two percent (52%) of the state land mass and we can applaud ourselves for not only having successfully met the national commitment of maintaining fifty percent (50%) under forest cover but also in protecting them in various functional classes. In addition, the State Government had also committed to increase forests under Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) to 2.2 million hectares by 2025, of which about 1.9 million hectares (or 26%) have been designated as such and the remaining about 400,000 hectares will be identified and gazetted within the next six (6) years.
The journey to retain and maintain these forests is definitely not an easy journey. The State over the last three decades had relied heavily on the forests for the much needed revenue for socio–economic development of the State, especially in the mid–eighties where forests contributed about fifty percent (50%) of the total State revenue. Unfortunately, such reliance had taken its toll on the forests. Most of our forests are predominantly logged over or secondary forests.
Despite having said that, there is still HOPE as the level of disturbance or “damage” to the forests due to past activities are reversible. This however requires extensive and intensive intervention such as restoration by means of silviculture and replanting, which had been disregarded in the past. Our forests are still rich in biodiversity, both flora and fauna, harboring some 11 thousand Orang Utans (seventy–five percent (75%) of which are found in protected areas), about two thousand (2000) elephants and many other key protected species. These inadvertently become an important consideration in the management of the forests, whereby managing the forests in the most sustainable ways possible is crucial to ensure the survival of these key protected species.
We believe that the best way forward for the forestry sector in Sabah is forest conservation. On this note, we are committed to couple the forestry sector with conservation and decouple it from deforestation. This could be achieved through strengthening networking by securing state, national and international collaborations/partnerships with relevant stakeholders to ensure long–term mutual benefits. We believe that it is crucial to establish impactful collaborations with relevant parties all across the globe to address many current gaps and questions in terms of sciences, capacity and technology. If you believe in us, and in our struggle to bring forest conservation to a new height, and serious about it, then we are here with our arms open, ready for serious engagement!
Chief Conservator of Forests