The Sabah Forestry Department and UNDP sign Memorandum of Understanding to reaffirm commitment to implement landscape management model

Nov 12, 2014

Datuk Sam Mannan, the Director of Forestry Sabah, on behalf of the Sabah State Government and Mr. James George Chacko, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Malaysia, on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

The MoU is an important milestone in preparing for the development phase of the Government of Malaysia-United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility (GoM-UNDP-GEF) Project, as well as, reaffirming commitment of the Sabah Forestry Department (Implementing Partner) and UNDP to implement and to achieve the project’s key objective, i.e., “To institutionalize a multiple-use forest landscape planning and management model which brings the management of critical protected areas and connecting landscapes under a common management umbrella, implementation of which is sustainably funded by revenues generated within the area”.

The 261,264 ha GoM-UNDP-GEF Project is an innovative landscape management model project that will transform the management of vast landscape housing some of the most important remaining biodiversity in Borneo. It is located within Yayasan Sabah’s Sustainable Forest Management Licence Agreement Area (SFMLA) in Kalabakan-Gunung Rara Forest Reserves. The project, which was signed in June, 2012 is a 6-year project of which assistance from GEF will strengthen the conservation of the largest area of mostly contiguous forest in Sabah and one of the remaining forest landscapes in the Heart of Borneo. The GEF’s intervention amounts to USD 4.4 million with co-financing (USD 19.5 million) from implementing partners, that is, the Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Foundation and WWF Malaysia.

Under the MoU, both parties undertake to work together in deciding on the concrete forms of activities of the agreements, which amongst others include the following:

  • Revise plans for the southern block of mosaic plantation to reduce its gross area to <15,000 ha and retain a substantial (mostly >5 km wide), fully protected natural forest buffer (with Class I Forest Reserve protection status) to the Maliau Basin Conservation Area;
  • Establish about >7,000 ha corridor between the INIKEA (Sg. Tiagau Forest Reserve) area and Mt Magdalena Forest Reserve to maintain north-south connectivity of natural forest areas within the project landscape;
  • Confirm the principle of land-use ‘flexibility’, i.e., the land-use can be modified on the basis of the ecological and economic models developed during project implementation – with any changes made only in the context of enhancing or further protecting biodiversity and promoting landscape connectivity in the long term;
  • Confirm the principle that the regulation and development of management practices within mosaic plantation areas will be based on an evolving understanding of the concept of the latter;
  • Develop a transparent, auditable mechanism for the re-investment of a sufficient portion of the revenues generated within the landscape, over an agreed time period, to support conservation, mitigation and restoration activities adequate to satisfy both the Sabah Government’s co-financing commitments and the project’s agreed no net loss of biodiversity target; and
  • Towards the end of the project, project outcomes including financial statistics on revenue generated for conservation and maps showing the agreed land-use patterns will be publicized and disseminated through public media, conference papers and academic journals.

The commitment undertakings should lead the GoM-UNDP-GEF Project potential to provide a highly relevant case study that reflects many of the major production, mitigation and conservation challenges facing policy makers and land management agencies across SE Asia.

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