BINTULU, 15 February 2020 – Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP), the world’s largest producer of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), a leading research university in Malaysia, announced a collaboration to research and identify potential conservation areas located within SDP’s estates in Bintulu, Sarawak.
In a ceremony to announce the collaboration, a Letter of Intent (LoI) was exchanged between SDP’s Sarawak Region Chief Executive Officer, Rajkumar V Ramasamy and Head of Strategic, Corporate Communication and Linkages Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Sarawak Campus (UPMKB), Dr Mohamad Maulana Magiman who represented UPM’s official signatory, Vice Chancellor Professor Datin Paduka Setia Dato’ Dr. Aini Ideris. The exchange of documents was witnessed by Jack Liam, Deputy Director of Forest Department Sarawak (FDS).
Globally, the world is concerned about the degradation of forests and natural landscapes as well as the rapid rate of deforestation which demands a meaningful response from various stakeholders. SDP shares the same concern and has long pledged to uphold the No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) policy in its journey towards sustainability.
This strategic collaboration aligns with SDP’s commitment and pledge to NDPE by protecting High Conservation Value (HCV) areas identified within its estates globally. HCV is defined as areas containing significant biodiversity values as well as those that provide basic services of nature including erosion control or large landscapes with natural habitats or rare, threatened and endangered ecosystems, as well as those that fundamentally meet the basic needs of local communities and are critical to their traditions and cultural identity.
“The LoI will allow researchers and students from UPMKB to access our premises and conduct baseline assessments on the flora, fauna and existing ecosystems in our estates. The results derived from this research will help Sime Darby Plantation better understand and manage the potential conservation areas,” added Rajkumar.
SDP and UPMKB also hopes to develop these potential conservation areas into educational sites for research work. To cement this idea, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between UPMKB, FDS and SDP is being discussed and is targeted to be signed within the year.
“This is a good example of a collaboration between universities, government agencies as well as private companies such as Sime Darby Plantation. Initiatives like this will demonstrate the contribution made by our current generation to conserve the environment for the benefit of the future generation,” Dr Mohamad Maulana.
In conjunction with the LoI exchange ceremony, SDP also organised a Forest Tree Planting & Riparian Buffer Zone Programme at the Rajawali Golf and Country Club (RGCC), Bintulu, Sarawak.
More than 200 people from UPMKB, FDS and SDP planted 1000 Endangered, Rare and Threatened (ERT) forest tree species, namely Engkabang Jantung, Belian, Binatoh, Meranti Sarang Punai and Ensurai on the Riparian Buffer Zone in Rajawali and Semarak estates along Sungai Sigrok.
The trees are part of 4,500 ERT tree species provided by FDS that will be planted in stages at SDP’s Derawan, Samudera, Bayu and Lavang Special estates.
Liam meanwhile said Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is being widely promoted as a solution to the loss and degradation of the world’s forests. He added, that the restoration of ecological, social, economic values, as well as functionalities of degraded landscapes should be regarded as part of sustainable development.
“Forest Department Sarawak has always encouraged and supported tree planting programmes by plantation companies, especially those involving high value indigenous trees, as well as ERT species, to enhance conservation areas and increase the biodiversity value within estates,” said Liam.
To date, SDP has planted approximately 1.3 million of trees since 2008 through the Sime Darby Plantation’s Plant-A-Tree project initiated across its operations globally.