One million trees for Kinabatangan
Published on: Monday, December 10, 2018

Sabah: In an effort to restore riparian along the lower Kinabatangan River, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad and Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) have committed to plant one million trees by 2020 as they extend their collaboration on the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project. Back in 2011, Nestlé established the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project, which has been supported by YSD since 2014 as part of their commitment to environmental sustainability.

The project has successfully achieved its initial target of replanting 2,500 hectares along the river with 700,000 trees in 2017.

The initiative will see reforestation of land along the lower Kinabatangan River and creation of a natural riverine buffer that will help minimise the impact of soil sedimentation and chemical fertiliser run-offs, thereby giving the river a chance to repair itself over the course of time.

Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad Chief Executive Officer Juan Aranols admitted that Kinabatangan is a vital Corridor of Life for Sabah, playing a crucial role not only for wildlife but also people.

"We are dedicated to preserving this unique biodiversity through the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project and continue to create a landscape where people, nature and agriculture can co-exist, united by critical water resource.

"Hence we felt honoured that our vision to protect and conserve Kinabatangan's rich biodiversity is shared with YSD and the Sabah Forestry Department," he said at a ceremony on the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project extension signing at Kampung Batu Puteh, Kinabatangan, on Saturday. Also present were YSD Council member Dato' Jeffri Salim Davidson and Sabah's Chief Conservator Forest Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini.

Meanwhile, Jeffri said the continued collaboration would help reduce pollutants and conserve wildlife corridors and sanctuaries.

"We are pleased that the project has been able to create economic activity and employment opportunities for the local community in the Kinabatangan area.

"We are confident that the project will contribute to creating a harmonious landscape for local communities and nature," he said.

On the other hand, the Sabah Forestry Department has lent valuable support to the project through the allocation of land for the restoration efforts and in providing valuable technical assistance.

The new planting areas for the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project are within the European Union Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation-Plus (EU REDD+) areas, a global initiative supporting sustainable land use governance in order to mitigate forest degradation and deforestation.

Mashor commented the commitment to plant one million trees by 2020, which he said would contribute greatly towards riparian forest restoration along the Kinabatangan River.

He believed that the tree-planting project would bring long-term benefits for the people of Sabah.

Through the years since it was first initiated, the Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project has been successful in empowering local communities living along the Kinabatangan River, by providing opportunities for capacity building, and additional through a locally-based seedlings producer, Komuniti Anak Pokok Kinabatangan (Kapok).

The forest seedlings used to plant the trees along the Kinabatangan River are grown, nutured and purchased locally by Kapok members who live along the river, while Habitat Enterprise, a home-grown organisation under Nestlé, manages the Kapok programme as well as planting of the seedlings along the riverbanks. - Winnie Kasmir


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