KOTA KINABALU: Half of Yayasan Sabah Concession Area is now protected forest, which also amounts to 64 per cent of the areas available for natural forest management.
Yayasan Sabah group director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad attributed the result to the implementation of Imbak Canyon Strategic Management Plan 2014-2023.
During the writing and consultation of the Management Plan, two significant forest reclassification proposals took place, including the conversion of Class II (Commercial) Forests to Class I (Protection) Forest in 2012.
The following year, the proposal on reclassification of Yayasan Sabah’s forests Imbak Canyon, Maliau Basin and Danum Valley became the first formal connection between all three conservation areas.
Sapawi said the proposal had provided a connection beyond the conservation areas to the coastal forests in the east, which saw further reduction in the concession area available for natural forest management and the generation of forest revenue.
“The period between 2011 and 2013 was probably one of the most dynamic and innovative periods of management change within the state forestry sector.
“Evolution and change in the forest industry and the expectations of national and international stakeholders, in terms of how we manage our forest resources, dramatically changed.
“How we value our forest has changed with a switch in emphasis from economic to a broader set of values,” he said during the launch of Batu Timbang Scientific Expedition Seminar and the Imbak Canyon Strategic Management Plan here on Monday.
Sapawi said the management plan also emphasised the need to integrate existing plans and policies that had been approved in the management framework that were relevant to the geographic area and land use zone.
As the plan is being aligned with global values, the staff has to be recognised for their contributions and also provided opportunities for career advancement.
“Special attention shall be paid to the new range of skills increasingly required to support protected area management, such as fundraising and marketing, sustainable financing, tourism and recreation management system and the technological and information systems that support these areas.
“Skills such as protected area management, including wildlife management, taxonomy and monitoring of flora and fauna shall also be developed.”
Meanwhile, Sapawi said as the Imbak Canyon was closely associated with local indigenous communities, research related to the traditional use of the forest and its products must be done.
“Imbak Canyon Conservation area shall position itself as a centre of excellence for tropical rainforest research, education, training and capacity building with an emphasis on participation and contribution.”