Sabah rehabilitating 250ha of degraded mangroves

KOTA KINABALU - Some 250ha of degraded mangroves in Sabah are to be rehabilitated over the next five years by the state Forestry Department with contributions from a Japanese company.

This would be the second phase of a collaboration between the department and the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME) that had so far restored nearly 152ha of Sabah wetlands over the past four years.

Under the second stage that was also funded by the Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co Ltd, about 50ha of Sabah mangroves would be rehabilitated yearly until 2019.

"Another aspect of the project is to develop cost effective methods of mangrove rehabilitation," said Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan after receiving the Japanese company's initial RM169,235 contribution for the mangrove rehabilitation project.

The work was an addition to the 1,000ha of wetlands that have been restored by the department over the past eight years with funding from the Sabah and Federal governments.

Mannan said the work to restore the wetlands had been carried out in the east coast of Semporna, Sandakan, Beluran and Kunak district and Beaufort in the west coast.

Some of the rehabilitation work was carried out in mangroves that had been illegally cleared for squatter settlements or plantations. Illegal prawn and fish farms contributed to the damage too.

"The biggest area we have seen cleared so far is about 150ha. They come in with excavators and other heavy equipment to build bunds that disrupt the flow of water in those areas," he said.

He said the challenges facing the mangrove rehabilitation efforts included seedlings being eaten by crabs as well livestock such as cattle and goats.