Projects: Northern Borneo

Imminent threats on the "Island of Rivers"


Tabin - Danum Valley - Maliau Basin - ULU Sembaking Complex Landscape on the island of Borneo covers a region to the south of the Sabah state, East Malaysia and includes a small section of northeast Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Rich in timber resources
The regions climate favours dense tropical vegetation, most of it evergreen rain forests, and local vegetation includes bamboo, camphor, ebony, sandalwood, teak, palm, and mangrove forests.

Forest cover fragmented due to commercial exploitation
However, oil palm plantations and logging are being practiced in these areas and land use has changed with the conversion of primary forests to secondary forest through the establishment of plantations and commercial harvesting of timber. This has also meant that a lot of the existing forest cover is fragmented, in danger of being fragmented, or lost to commercial enterprise.

Allocation of forest management units:
a step ahead?

Virtually all forests in Sabah are within a system of forest reserves, parks and wildlife reserves, divided into 27 Forest Management Units (FMUs) of about 100,000 hectares each.

In November 1997 the Government of Sabah signed contracts with ten forest management companies of 99 year leases to manage sustainably FMUs averaging about 100,000 hectares each. Much of these 1 million ha of forest are elephant and rhino habitat.

Unclear managing regulations
The conditions of the licencing agreements, while detailed, do not specify some aspects of the areas to be managed as natural forest, and those which might be converted into timber plantations. Maps are not yet available for zoning of all the intended uses. All ten of these FMUs, and most other forest, comes under the management authority of the Sabah Forestry Department.

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