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'Tackling encroachments first priority'

10th December, 2018


KINABATANGAN: The riparian restoration efforts through the continuation of Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project by Nestle (Malaysia) Berhad and Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) will eventually tackle issues on encroachments into the riparian reserves, said Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) Chief Conservator, Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini.

According to him, pursuant to the implementation of the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project in 2011, the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life (K-COL) Riparian Patrol Unit, under the patronage of the SFD was established.

“The establishment of this unit was the result of the collaboration between the department and the Kinabatangan-Corridor of Life Tourism Association (KITA).

“The unit aims to protect the riparian reserves along the Kinabatangan River from encroachments and any other activities that could affect the biodiversity within the riparian,” he said.

He explained, with the establishment of the K-COL Riparian Patrol Unit, any encroachment issues that were detected could be reported directly to the department.

“This would enable the department to work or Iiaise directly with the relevant departmental bodies such as the Lands and Surveys Department, the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Environment Protection Department, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and also the Department of Environment,” he said.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the ultimate goal is to gazette all the surveyed and restored riparian in Kinabatangan as Riparian Reserves,” he added.

Mashor said that in his speech during the extension signing for Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project ceremony on Saturday at Dewan Komuniti Batu Puteh in Sukau, Kinabatangan.

Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project was initiated by Nestle and officially launched in September 2011 to restore the riparian forest along the Lower Kinabatangan. The project has been supported by YSD starting from 2014.

The project has successfully restored 2,500 hectares of Kinabatangan riparian in 2017 with 700,000 trees. After its positive environmental impact, Nestle and YSD extend their collaboration on the project to the upper stream of Kinabatangan with a new target of planting one million trees along the Kinabatangan River by 2020.

Commenting on the continuation of the collaboration, Mashor highlighted that the State Government of Sabah was very supportive of the RiLeaf Project.

He said the implementation of the project is pursuant to the State’s decision to restore the riparian in Kinabatangan, in which the Sabah Forestry Department was given the authority to conduct restoration works.

“In view of this, the Sabah Forestry Department had facilitated the implementation of the RiLeaf Project on behalf of the State Government.

“We welcome the extension of the RiLeaf Project for a period of three more years as this will be a collaboration effort between the SFD, local communities, Nestlé, Habitat Enterprise, and the YSD.

“We are pleased to provide support in terms of providing technical input and on the ground support to Nestle, verifying completed planting and maintenance work, verifying and approving payment documents and supporting documents, and monitoring and tracking project progress with documentation,” he said.

Mashor in his speech also urged land owner and planters within or nearby the riverbanks to play their roles. For instance, he said, the Sawit Kinabalu Group is aware of the importance of the riparian and had decided to set aside 1,100 hectares of area as the existing conservation/riparian.

They have also added an additional 1,500 hectares of area, making the current area earmarked for conservation/riparian today is 2,500 hectares.

“The department is hopeful that efforts similar to this could be an inspiration to all the other land owner/planters nearby the Riverbanks, whereby they could one day adopt similar initiatives,” he said.

Also present during the ceremony were the Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad, Juan Aranols; Governing Council Member of YSD and Chief Executive Officer of Sime Darby Berhad, Dato’ Jeffri Salim Davidson.

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