Hiromitsu Samejima（CSEAS, Kyoto University)
East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) can be divided into following land categories in general¹
1. Government land
1.1 Natural reserves such as national parks
1.2 Concessions (the lease of commercial exploitation
rights) managed by private companies
1.2.1 Logging management in natural forests (selective
1.2.2 Industrial tree plantation (Plantations of fast-grow-
ing trees species (ex. Acacia mangium)
1.2.3 Oil palm plantations
2. Private property mainly employing the shifting cultiva-
tion system of hill padi¹There is some land that is earmarked for other use, but the area is small.
In sparsely populated East Malaysia, the major part of the land is occupied by the concessions of private companies (1.2) and their economic activities in these areas have been playing a crucial role in the state’s economy. Therefore, studies on the managements of these concessions and their interactions with the environment and local societies are one of the major parts of our project.
Walking about Anap-Muput Foret Management Unit
In Sarawak, the most of the concessions had been for selective logging of natural forest (1.2.1). The situation has changed as the volume of standing trees has dwindled in recent decades due to the repetition of selective logging. This has led to the rapid expansion of oil palm (1.2.3) and industrial tree plantations (1.2.2). In Bintulu Division, almost all forest areas except Anap-Muput Forest Management Unit, are licensed to be turned into acacia and oil palm plantations.
The public view on the selective logging in natural forests has changed dramatically in recent decades. It was the main object of criticism when the movement of tropical rainforest conservation prevailed during 1980s and 1990s. In those years, it was even insisted that any logging operation in tropical rainforest would incur irreversible collapse of the ecosystems. Today, however, the impact of this selective logging has been reevaluated as less harmful to the environment and local communities compared to acacia and oil palm plantations if the logging is sustainably managed. The importance of sustainable forest management of natural forest became recognized in the process of creating the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. To this end, economic incentives such as forest certification and the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) program have now been developed.
The Anap-Muput Forest Management Unit (FMU) is a concession where selective logging is performed in natural forest. It is under the management of Zedtee sdn bhd, a logging company that belongs to the Shin Yang group, one of the six largest lumber business groups in Sarawak. Most of the timbers are brought to their factory near Tatau town, processed into plywood and shipped overseas.
During the 80s-90s, the ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) conducted inspections in Sarawak and selected Anap-Muput as a model site for sustainable forest management and since then, sustainable forest management have been developed and implemented in this concession. The FMU is divided into 25 areas called “Coupes”. Only one Coupe is logged each year on a 25-year cycle². In this area, RIL (Reduced-Impact Logging) is practiced; all target trees have to be mapped and all skid trails have to be designed before harvesting. As the result, Anap-Muput FMU is certificated as sustainably managed from the Malaysian Timber Certification Council in 2004 and it remains the only certified forest in Sarawak to this day. In Tatau, Zedtee’s plywood factory also obtained the CoC (chain of custody) certification so the company can produce certified products. However, because Zedtee exports approximately 90% of its products to Japan where the demand for certified plywood is still not high, the company does not sell their product as certified.
²The plan was to turn selected concessions into industrial tree plantation and oil palm plantations. The future of the 25-year-cycle is unclear.
In order to manage natural forests sustainably, ecological and social High Conservation Value (HCV) of each concession must be recognized, various measures to conserve them must be implied, and the effects of those measures must be measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV). These processes are demanded for forest certification.
One member of this project, Mr. Jason Hon (News Letter No. 1) has installed camera-traps at natural salt licks in the Anap-Muput FMU since August 2010. He has been working to understand the importance of the salt licks to the local fauna and the spatial scale of the effect. The “natural salt lick” is a site where water containing potassium or sodium is leached from the ground. It was suggested that the nutrients play a crucial role for the fauna of tropical forests where the minerals are difficult to obtain. Although it is not addressed in this article, H. Samejima also has set camera-traps throughout the FMU to reveal the spatial distribution of fauna and attempts to assess the performance of sustainable forest management. Meanwhile, Dr. Koizumi has been working to develop a simple method to assess tree diversities in logging concession.
Install a camera trap
For further research activities in the Anap-Muput FMU and other company’s concessions, I also asked Dr. Fujita, who has been working on ornithological researches in acacia plantations in Sumatra, to share her experience working with private company. Conducting research in a concession managed by a private company is different in many aspects from researches conducted in national parks or local villages. Many companies have their own regulations and we have to adjust our research plan to them. On the other hand, if researchers can persuade the companies to understand the benefit from their studies, they can access to companies’ records of past managements which contribute deeply understanding the situation. It also may provides a great opportunity for the researchers to observe the companies’ process and interests in decision-making or how do the companies manage their reputation and relationship with the government. The future of the 25-year-cycle is unclear.