KOTA KINABALU - A conservation plan is under way to restore degraded riverbank reserves and create new forest areas in Sabah.
The Sabah Forestry Department is in talks with the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) on a plan to work together on creating sustainable oil palm development.
Department director Datuk Sam Mannan, who met with members of the MPOA Sabah branch headed by Mohammad Tarmizi Taufek, said they hoped to sign a memorandum of understanding by the end of this year to put the plan in place.
Some potential areas of collaboration include restoration of degraded riparian reserves along the Kinabatangan river, creation of new forest and documenting conservation efforts by the association members, he said.
He said they were looking at the Kinabatangan river for the restoration of riverbank reserves that had been degraded over the years as among the first areas of conservation before looking at other rivers.
A study was conducted to find out the possibility of replanting new forests in open areas that were previously forests destroyed by fires or natural degradation as well as open grassland areas.
"We need to identify the areas and work on creating new forests," Mannan said, adding that the plan was for long-term sustainable development of the oil palm industry.
He said they also hoped to disseminate information on conservation among oil palm players as well as local communities in the area.
The active conservations plans come hardly a month after Bilit villagers in Kinabatangan kicked off a programme to replant a riverbank reserve that was encroached by an oil palm plantation with native trees.