RUBEN SARIO and DURIE RAINER FONG at the Sabah State Assembly
TWO of Sabah’s pristine forests – the Maliau Basin and Danum Valley – are to be shielded from encroachment with the creation of “totally protected zones” around them.
The state assembly passed amendments to Sabah’s forestry’s enactment to reclassify certain forests, including those surrounding Maliau Basin and Danum Valley, as first-class reserves yesterday.
Earlier, when proposing the Bill, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Radin Malleh said part of the Ulu Segama forest reserve, totalling 54,760ha in east coast Lahad Datu, and the 46,603ha Maliau Buffer Zone should be reclassified to Class I (Protected) from Class II (Commercial).
He said Ulu Segama was a vital water catchment area and a buffer zone for Danum Valley as well as a critical habitat for the orang utan, adding that it would be re-named as Mount Louisa forest reserve.
Radin said besides being a water catchment area, the Maliau Buffer Zone Class I forest reserve had unique conservation value.
“Other areas to be re-classified to Class I include part of the Sapulut and Kalabakan forest reserves covering 6,688ha, to be known as the Mengilan reserve.”
At the same time, the Bill approved the conversion of 7,024ha of forest reserve into state land and the creation of 9,544ha of new permanent forest reserve land as replacement.
At a press conference, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman pointed out that the conversion of forest reserves to state land proved that the Sabah Government had listened to the plight of the people who lived and toiled there.