APFNet seminar attracts 50 participants

Jack Liam (seated centre) in a photo call with participants and speakers of the APFNet Community Based Sustainable Forest Management of Sungai Medihit Watershed Seminar 2019 at Hilton Hotel, Kuching. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: A total of 50 participants and speakers from various government agencies, universities, private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took part in the Asia Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) Community Based Sustainable Forest Management of Sungai Medihit Watershed Seminar 2019 at Hilton Hotel here yesterday.

Organised by the Forest Department of Sarawak (FDS), the seminar aimed to provide a platform and opportunity to share and exchange the APFNet Project activities and outputs during the course of the project implementation to the various and relevant stakeholders.

The project signed between Sarawak and the APFNet Agreement on Mar 23, 2015 officially started from July 1, 2015 until June 30, 2017.

“This project targeted two isolated communities – the Kelabit community of Kampung Long Napir and the Penan community of Kampung Bahagia. The Sungai Medihit Watershed (approximately 35,400 hectares) is located in Ulu Limbang in northern Sarawak.

“The goal of the project is to promote the sustainable forest management in Sungai Medihit Watershed area by building the capacity of the community, demonstrating innovative operational model and establishing new governance mechanism on community development.

“The project has two outputs, namely improved community forest management and capacity of the community on development enhanced,” said FDS director Hamden Mohammad in his text speech read out by his deputy Jack Liam.

He added that the project was very much in line with the state government’s initiative of managing its forests in a sustainable manner through the certification of long-term timber licences such as the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) certification.

“At present, we have six SFM certified areas covering 561,703 hectares of natural forest areas.

“The state remains committed in ensuring its forest and forest resources are managed in a sustainable manner. This commitment is further affirmed by the policy that requires all long-term timber licence holders to obtain forest management certification by 2022.

“Apart from that, I also hope that the collaboration projects such as APFNet, ITTO, FAO and others could be further enhanced especially in the sustainable forest management area,” said Hamden.

According to him, ITTO has a long collaboration history with the Malaysian government especially Sarawak by working with the FDS and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

While ITTO’s most important focus is trade, it places emphasis on conservation and because of this, they (ITTO) began to support a number of projects in Sarawak.

“I also hope that either ITTO or APFNet could support relevant projects especially within the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area in the near future to enhance the sustainable development and conservation agenda of the state government.

“I would also like to thank Lee Ling Timber for assisting the project in the completion of 1.5km access road including two units of steel bridges to Kampung Bahagia with a total cost of RM1.9 million. This road has benefited the community tremendously especially for access and transporting agriculture products and handicrafts made by the locals to the market,” he explained.

Meanwhile, 10 project papers were presented during the seminar by representatives from APFNet, ITTO and project consultants.