Besides protection against encroachment, protection of forests against natural causes of damage, especially forest fire, is the most important aspect of forest protection. Fire as a result of abnormal weather pattern has a detrimental impact on forest resources. It causes total destruction to the affected forest areas compared to the partial damage due to logging activities. Many studies have shown that logged over areas are more prone to fire. In view of the fact that about 80 percent of the forest reserve areas has already been logged, the forest in Sabah is generally highly susceptible to fire.
The Forestry Department has been implementing a programme of forest fire management. This programme consists of the following components:
- Fire prevention
- Fire detection system
- Fire preparedness
- Fire suppression & control
Damages by pests and diseases are also closely monitored, although there has not been any major outbreak.
Forest Fire Management
Fire prevention involves fire risk monitoring in the entire forest reserve areas in the state of Sabah. Fire prevention involves fire risk monitoring in the entire forest reserve areas in the state. Emphasis is given to the areas shown in the map below which have been identified as the most fire prone areas.
Apart from frequent patrolling by the field staff, the Department uses an important tool for fire prevention known as Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS). The system is used to monitor the risk of forest fire outbreak during prolonged drought. It provides an indication of the ability of a fire to start, spread and cause damage. Therefore, it gives early warning of serious fire problems, so that prevention and preparedness measures can be stepped up before the fire situation gets worse.