Friday, April 24, 2015

‘Replant forests with local timber species’

Posted on April 24, 2015, Friday

KUCHING: Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) has called for urgent measures to be taken to replant and renovate the state’s forest estate to eventually re-establish large areas of natural and indigenous forests that could once again bring about a highly valuable annual sustainable yield for future generations.

“This must not be done with foreign and exotic species – many of which damage our soils and eliminate our wildlife and natural ecosystem.Fast growing exotic tree species should only be seen as a short term small-scale solution while longer-term policies of natural forest reinstatement are undertaken,” he said in his debate on the motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s speech during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here yesterday.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman, said claims by many timber companies that none of the local tree species were growing fast enough to support the timber industry were fallacious and reflected their short term attitude to forest management and wish to finally exhaust and extract everything from Sarawak before moving on to some other countries or continents to denude their natural forests.

“Yes, some local species may take long time to mature but I was advised that not all will require long period. So planting of local high value and fast growing hardwood species can and should be undertaken. It may take time but replant local species we must.”

In addition, he said worldwide concern about global warming could greatly assist Sarawak in replanting its forests, adding that the amount of finance available worldwide from many sources to undertake legitimate projects for re-afforestation is absolutely vast and ranges from sources such as the World Bank to sovereign funds such as the Qatar Foundation.

“It would seem entirely possible that all the replanting of Sarawak’s forests could be achieved with virtually no funding from the state because foreign funds would be very anxious to become involved in such a high profile and beneficial project as the replanting of the great forests of Sarawak.

“But it is certain that such funds would not be available for the replanting of exotic timber species but would only be forthcoming for the reinstatement of the original and indigenous species diversity with all its attendant benefits
to wildlife and tourism et cetera.”

Baru said replanting of indigenous forests would not be as difficult as it might seem and indeed might provide a huge boost for rural regeneration and employment.

“Most of the native population are very familiar with replanting techniques and indeed have been practising on a cultural basis, on their own lands for generations.

“They are skilled in deciding the mix of species replanting in order to provide a variety of growth rates and timber quality.”

He said community forestry projects could be set up in all villages in rural areas, which could then carry out replanting, both on their own native customary land and state land.

“This would enhance their sense of stewardship over both their own and state land such that the future of the forest estate would be secure, environmentally responsible and capable of sustainable yield that would guarantee our future generations.”

Baru also suggested that a non-partisan panel be set up to look into this issue, stating that whichever side the elected representatives are sitting in the DUN, Sarawak holds a very special place in every heart present and they must do what they can to restore it to its former pristine state, or as close to it as possible.

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