Push for SFM in Kubaan-Puak Project Corridor
KUCHING: The on-going pilot Kubaan-Puak Corridor Project in the interiors of Ulu Tutoh will be entering its final year of implementation in 2017, to push for sustainable forest management (SFM).
It is hoped that by then, forest management units (FMUs) within the corridor project area which connects part of the Heart of Borneo will obtain certification, said Forest Department Sarawak Director Tuan Haji Sapuan Ahmad.
“We want to see how and where logging operations can or cannot be done, taking into considerations the needs of protecting key ecosystems and meeting the needs of the local communities.
“The department is committed to promoting SFM in Sarawak and the government would like all FMUs within the Heart of Borneo to be certified by 2017, as already mentioned by the Most Honourable Chief Minister,” he said.
The Kubaan-Puak Corridor Project is important because the area forms an important link between Gunung Mulu National Park and Pulong Tau National Park, which then link up the Sungai Ingei Conservation Area in Brunei to Kayan-Mentarang National Park in Kalimantan.
To the north, it connects to the key headwaters between Sabah and Sarawak in the Maligan Highlands.
“Recognising the ecological importance of the area and the need to promote good forests management, we aim to develop a model for SFM that is environmentally friendly, economically successful and socially appropriate,” he said when officiating at the opening the Kubaan-Puak Mid-Term Workshop here recently.
Forest Department Sarawak jointly held the workshop with WWF-Malaysia to provide updates on project progress; and discuss on the work plan for 2017 and beyond, including improvements to be made.
Inputs from the workshop, particularly activities on the ground, will be streamlined into the project’s 2017 work plan.
About 50 people from government agencies, universities, local communities from Kubaan-Puak and WWF-Malaysia attended the one-day workshop. This corridor project is supported by German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Tuan Haji Sapuan said Forest Department Sarawak has been actively involved in most of the ground based activities, which were carried out together with WWF-Malaysia and other agencies such as Department of Agriculture, Inland Fisheries Division, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, District Office, Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kraftangan Malaysia and local handicraft social enterprise Tanoti Sdn Bhd.
“We would like to call upon all FMUs in the project area, such as Ta Ann and Samling, to continue giving their full support and be fully engaged in the project. I was informed that Ta Ann and Samling’s concessions cover most of the project area, and I am glad to see ground activities already happening.
“I hope to see all FMUs here promote SFM and become certified in the near future, and to put the needs of the local communities into the perspective of your operations. At the end of the day, we should strive towards co-benefit sharing of the resources of the forests,” he elaborated.
Tuan Haji Sapuan said in line with the government’s efforts in promoting SFM, the department acknowledged the importance of our forests in contributing to the economy through logging activities.
“We would like to promote good management of our forests so that they can be sustainable, but at the same time, recognising that there are communities who depend on the forests for their livelihood. These communities have a strong feeling of attachment to the forest, where they depend on for subsistence living.
“In the Kubaan-Puak Project area in Sarawak, the State Government acknowledges the presence of Penan communities in the area. The Magoh Biosphere Reserve has been set aside for the local communities, where there shall be no logging activities,” he said.
He added that timber companies must strike a balance in their operations, to find amicable solutions when dealing with the community’s needs to co-share forest resources, minimise or prevent degradation of forest that will affect the ecosystem services such as clean water, food resources, medicinal plants and so on.
After the workshop, the organizers brought the first Kubaan-Puak Community Representative Committee (CRC) members to visit several farming sites in Kuching, Santubong and Lundu, including the Department of Agriculture’s Rampangi Research Station . It is hoped that these visits will provide the CRC members with some farming knowledge, which they can then share with other villagers in Kubaan-Puak.
They also visited Craun Research Centre to learn about the research carried out on sago (Metroxylon sagu); and stingless bee or kelulut farm in Lundu. It is hoped that these visits will stir up their interest and provide them with ideas that can be implemented in their village.
After over a year of engagement work with the semi-nomadic communities Penans living in Kubaan-Puak project area, the first CRC was elected in July 2016, with Mr Asai Berat from Ba Selulong as their Chairman.
In the past one year, WWF-Malaysia and its partners have held several activities to empower local communities with the concept of CRC and will continue to do so next year.
The CRC serves as a platform for the communities to voice out their concerns to parties concerned regarding changes that may affect their livelihoods. It also empowers the communities to be more organised in co-managing the Kubaan-Puak forests.