Equip land-use planners with vegetation mapping knowledge
KUCHING: Land use planners were urged to equip themselves with vegetation mapping knowledge to enable them to better develop Sarawak and conserve its natural resources based on scientific recommendations.
Making this call recently, Sarawak Forest director Sapuan Ahmad said for instance, vegetation mapping helped the department in identifying areas for conservation, or could be used as production forests and other uses.
“The state government has a land use policy whereby one million hectares of land will be gazetted as conservation areas, six million hectares are for permanent forest estates, four million hectares for agriculture development and the rest are for other uses.
“Knowledge of vegetation types is important, to identify areas and vegetation types of high priority for conservation, where existing protected areas are still lacking,” he explained at the closing of Vegetation Mapping Workshop in Kuching held from August 17 to 20.
Sarawak has one of the most extensive protected area networks in Malaysia covering 835, 205.60 hectares as of June 2015, said Sapuan.
“Although the target for Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) has been set at one million hectares, there is insufficient information regarding the extent of coverage of the diverse vegetation types in Sarawak,” he said.
As such, he said, the workshop served as a first step towards gathering information on vegetation types and how to analyse them.
It is also important for the state to have a baseline on vegetation types’ cover, which is to be updated periodically, so that other government agencies could have access to and share information, leading to better management of our forests and land, while achieving a balance between development and conservation, he added.
In line with this, the Forest Department of Sarawak held the four-day workshop in collaboration with WWF-Malaysia, to familiarise on the methodologies of mapping vegetation. About 50 participants from Sarawak Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Agriculture Department, Natural Resources and Environmental Board and WWF-Malaysia took part in the workshop.
The main objective of the workshop was to provide hands-on training using Geographic Information System (GIS) to map out vegetation types that can then be updated into a database on vegetation types for Sarawak.
Training was conducted at Sarawak Information System Sdn Bhd (SAINS) laboratory in Samarahan for deskwork; followed by field trip to Bako National Park for botanical survey.