RM25 million to conserve home of orang utans SimeDarby makes huge commitment for Ulu Segama,Malua
Ulu Segama and Malua, home for the orang utans in Sabah, will be better conserved, With a
RM25 million commitment from Sime Darby, one of the largest private companies in Malaysia. The allocation, which is spread over a period of 10 years, would encompass the rehabilitation of the forest, besides protection of the orang utans and other wildlife found in the forest reserve. “Conservation is a subject that is close to my heart, and is part of Sime Darby’s sustainable development policy,” said the company’s president and group chief executive, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid. Speaking at a press conference here yesterday, he said the long-term partnership is a contribution to 50 per cent of the Sabah Forestry Department’s (SFD) budget for the restoration of degraded forests. The reserves which are almost five times the size of Langkawi, are located within the SFD’s Ulu Segama-Malua (USM) project that covers several other forest reserves, including the world-famous Danum Valley. The Ulu Segama and Malua reserves cover 250,000 hectares, of which 160,000 hectares are badly degradable due to logging. As pledged by the State Government almost two years ago, logging ceased end of last year at both areas measuring 236,825ha. Ahmad Zubir added that apart from conservation works, Sime Darby would also be focusing on research and development, which they hope would add value to the project. “We will second people to work on the project, so this will raise awareness of the need to conserve and protect the environment. “Such project needs huge commitment. We may not be able to see the results tomorrow but it would definitely do good especially for the next generation,” he explained. SFD director Datuk Sam Mannan described the Sime Darby’s contribution as ‘a dream come true’, stressing that it was beyond his expectation. ‘Ulu Segama and Malua have the highest concentration of orang utans in Borneo, numbering 5,000. They are often referred as the umbrella species, meaning that if you look after them all the other species in the forest like the pygmy elephants, chimpanzees and other wildlife would be taken care of,” said Sam, adding that the project is a ‘legacy plan’. Sam, who also disclosed that the project was also part of the Sabah Development Corridor, further stressed that if the work was left to nature, it would take a long time to recover. “But with the intervention of man, it will speed up works. A bulk of the RM25 million will be spent primarily on greening the area, while some would also be allocated to improve the infrastructure and recruitment,” he said. On the business perspective, Sime Darby’s executive vice president, Plantation and Agri-Business Division, Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, said the company has 45,000 hectares of plantations mostly in Sandakan and Tawau. The company is currently looking for ways to expand its investment in Sabah in the areas of bulking activities where the State may become a staging point for exports to countries in the Far East like China and Japan. In addition, the company is also looking at the setting up of downstream activities such as refineries, oleo chemical and biodiesel plants. There will also be investments in agricultural-related education programmes.