|KUKUSAN QUARRY UNDER 'FOREST CONSERVATION FUND'|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 23 July 2012 10:16|
PLEASE allow me to explain about the quarrying operations in the area which has been reported at various occasions in your esteem portal. For your information, Kukusan Forest Reserve was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve on 15th February 1949. It has remained as a forest reserve since then.
From the beginning, it has always been managed for commercial purposes, stone quarrying being the most prominent use, because of the high quality stones found therein, and the lack of such a significant area of equivalent quality stones in other part of Sabah.
There was a re-gazettment exercise in 1992 which turned its status to Class I (protection), but this gave only 'paper protection' as the existing quarrying permits therein were never withdrawn or cancelled.
In order to regularize the usage and to classify the management for its actual and existing purpose ( commercial), it was re-classified back as a Class II (Commercial) Forest Reserve in 2003.
The existing quarrying operations is covered by a Licence Agreement, issued under Section 15 of the Forest Enactment 1968. Amongst other Licence conditions, the licensee has to comply with the following:
-Payment of annual fees of RM350,000.00.
-Payment of royalties at 10% of the sales value of the stones and gravel sold by the licensee.
-Obtaining the E.I.A. approval which the licensee has fully adhered to.
The total area of the licence is 66.00 hectares including: office site, road, buffer area, stock piles and retained forest of some 25.00 hectares. The Licence Agreement is valid for a period of (10) years with an option for renewal after that.
The Forestry Department has been allowing quarrying in the said reserve for a good 50 years on the following grounds :
(i) It has good quality stones sought after locally and abroad.
(ii) Since its inception in 1949, the site has always been managed as per the present usage – i.e. stone quarrying.
(iii) It is a forest of low conservation value and the department has never intended to manage it for conservation or Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).
(iv) It is best used to generate maximum income while adhering to environmental laws and guidelines and the Licence Agreement conditions.
(v) A nearby forest reserve, Gemok Hill Forest Reserve (Class I) of 435 hectares, in relatively pristine condition, adequately represents a similar forest formerly found in Kukusan Forest Reserve and therefore, a biological representative already exists nearby for posterity.
(vi) The forest reserve has not encroached any settlements. It is settlements, legal and illegal, that have themselves come close or occupied parts of the reserve since a hill cannot walk.
Furthermore, the quarrying condition includes an endowment of RM2 million from the licensee to the Forestry Department, under its 'Forest Conservation Fund', to re-create new forest elsewhere on the basis of a 'no net loss' policy. This sum is adequate to recreate or manage at least 500 hectares of new forests.
The Forestry Department appreciates the concern of interested parties in ensuring that laws are adhered to and the environment is protected.
Therefore, as far as legalities are concerned, these have been addressed.
However, in view of the conservation measures we have taken elsewhere (closing of logging in many parts of Sabah, re-classifying forests of high conservation value to protected status etc.), the forest revenue income will be at its lowest in the next (20) years whilst waiting for the restoration / reforestation efforts today to bear fruits, in the next 2 decades. In the meantime, the Forestry Department must look for new and additional avenues for revenue generation, quarrying being one option, where it is appropriate.
Contrary to popular belief, this quarrying activity actually stops new forest areas from being logged or opened up to generate revenue.
For illustration, the annual fee of RM350,000.00 alone represents royalty income from some 50 hectares of virgin forests if logged. Therefore, if the quarrying goes on for 10 years, some 500 hectares of pristine forest do not have to be logged to generate the same income and thus saved.
With the royalties on stone production added on at 10%, more than 500 hectares of virgin forests can be spared. As the revenue income exceeds RM1 million a year (RM1.3 m in 2011) it follows that at least 1500 hectares of virgin forests are spared from the need to log for revenue over 10 years. This is therefore logic in the department allowing such a quarry.
At the same time, one has to be aware that it is not practical nor desirable to save every tree, to save every tract of forest, to save every monkey and to save every Frog etc, in Sabah.
In a developing State like Sabah, pragmatic solutions must be arrived at, to ensure that not only are our development efforts balanced, but our conservation efforts must equally be balanced.
There is nothing more counter productive than total prohibition – it shall never work. We save what we need to save and let go what does not need to be saved.
Otherwise, the Forestry Department becomes a 'Green Beggar', rich with forests and lands but begging for alms.
Nor can we continue and upgrade our forest management efforts if we do not have an independent source of financing ourselves. A government that is poor cannot help Forest Conservation.
With The Best Regards,
DATUK SAM MANNAN
Director of Forestry Department
|Last Updated on Monday, 23 July 2012 10:19|