KOTA KINABALU, Nov 23 (Bernama) --- The status dissolution of 1,637 hectares forest reserve for 90 villages by the state government is a historical move in forest management in Sabah, said Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini.
He said the move is welcomed because it not only brings relief to about 20,000 people who have long resided in the forest area but will also reduce the burden of conflict between the villagers and the government.
Mashor also advised the villagers to adhere to the given area and not to expand the border of the village in order to avoid new conflicts as well as appreciate the government for the concern given in ensuring their well-being.
“The people are also reminded to not misuse the opportunity by building new villages in the forest reserve area. The state government through the Sabah Forestry Department will not compromise with them,” he said in a statement today.
Recently, the Sabah state legislative assembly passed an amendment to take out approximately 1,637 hectares of forest reserve for 90 villages that have long been inhabited by locals which altogether includes 3,800 houses and about 20,000 residents.
SABAH-FOREST RESERVE 2 KOTA KINABALU
The status dissolution only represents 0.05 per cent of the total 3.54 million hectares of state forest reserve area, this will not result in significant changes in the total area of the forest reserve throughout the state.
While doing so, the state assembly also approved 2,154 hectares of government land to be gazetted as forest reserves. Both moves have resulted in an increase of total Sabah forest reserve by 0.015 percent, from 3,540,748.874 hectares to 3,541,265.683 hectares.
Mashor explained that both moves need to be carried out concurrently as the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 has stipulated that every dissolution of the forest reserve area must be replaced with an area of a same or bigger size.
This, he said is in line with the government obligation to ensure about 50 percent of Sabah state land area under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services like watershed area and habitat for flora and fauna.
SABAH-RESERVE FOREST 3 (LAST) KOTA KINABALU
Meanwhile, Mashor acknowledged that there were still several villages in the forest reserves that were not included in the dissolution process, but the Sabah Forestry Department will conduct a detailed study of the villages and the study will also consider the importance of the area for conservation purposes.
The findings of the study will be forwarded to a special task force chaired by Sabah state secretary Datuk Safar Untong for further action, he said.