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Policy to check logging in forest reserves bearing fruit

Year 2013 has been a record of sorts for Sabah because for the first time in perhaps 50 years, no short-term logging or Form I licences have been issued in forest reserves.

This was part of a deliberate policy to bring down timber harvesting volumes in natural forests to sustainable levels through various measures, said State Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan.

Other steps taken included the phasing out and elimination of short -term logging licences, introduction of reduced impact logging since 2009 with third party and independent auditing.

Mannan said this when responding to queries from various groups on the sharp decline in the state’s forest revenue over the past several years. He added that Sabah’s totally protected areas had been increased by some 60% over the past 10 years and now constitute about 20% of the state’s land mass.

There were now about 1.35 million hectares of protected areas compared to just 840,000ha in 2004.

“Our long-term plan is to create two million hectares of protected areas, or 30% of Sabah’s land mass,” he said.

The increase in protected areas has corresponded with a decline in revenue from the states forests.

Some 1.2 million cubic metres or some 30% of the states total timber production were sourced from forest plantations in 2011.

On loss of revenue due to leakage, he said there is no denying that leakages did occur either deliberately or due to technicalities, and even outright abuse.

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