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Stakeholders Empower Tawau Oil Palm Smallholders through Agroforestry


The Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve plays a crucial role as a water catchment for the Tawau, Kunak and Semporna districts. -WWF-MALAYSIA/MAZIDI ABD GHANI

Smallholders of the Ulu Kalumpang Agricultural Scheme (UKAS) will enjoy more fruits from their oil palm land.


Through a collaboration among Sabah Forestry Department, Agriculture department, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Forever Sabah and WWF-Malaysia, the Ulu Kalumpang Community River Riparian Restoration Project adopts a comprehensive approach to revitalize smallholder oil palm practices through innovative agroforestry.


Other stakeholders include industry players such as Unilever, Sawit Kinabalu Sdn Bhd., and Integrated Wood Processing Sdn. Bhd.


The initiative begins with a pilot project to restore 10 hectares of mixed oil palm area and degraded area of Sg. Mantri, a tributary to the major river Sungai Kalumpang.


The project kickstarted on Aug 28, aligns with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil's (RSPO) riparian zone buffer requirements, ensuring ecological protection along water bodies.


The Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve plays a crucial role as a water catchment for the Tawau, Kunak and Semporna districts.


WWF-Malaysia Sabah Landscapes Program (Restore) lead Dr Faisal Mohd Noor said agroforestry has immense potential in aligning agriculture and environmental preservation including creating resilient communities and landscapes towards climate change.


"This project showcases our joint dedication to inclusive conservation and human well-being.


"By pooling our strengths, we can truly make a positive impact on the environment and people's lives," he said in a statement.


Agroforestry is part of the activity implemented by the WWF-Malaysia's Sabah Landscapes Program to support restoration and improve landscape diversity.


Faisal added there was a need for policies for incentives for agriculture that conserves biodiversity and provides equitable and safe food by shifting from monocropping to diverse agroforestry, combining crops, livestock, and trees.


By setting land targets, this approach reduces chemical dependency and maintains natural processes.


Agroforestry, mimicking forests, combines agriculture and forestry practices to enhance landscapes, encompassing timber trees, plant diversity, indigenous fruits, and livestock.


A significant step in this direction is encouraging the establishment of community tree seedling nurseries to support the long-term effort of forest restoration within the Tawau-Kunak landscape.


This not only offers an extra source of income but also fosters a feeling of ownership and dedication towards the ongoing restoration project. Moreover, it supports state timber production through community engagement on farms rather than relying heavily on reserve forests.


UKAS currently has over 150 members consisting of local smallholders. A target of up to 10,000 tree seedlings will be planted along Sg. Mantri and Sg. Melati by the end of 2023.


Smallholders can anticipate non-timber forest products (NTFP) harvests within a span of 3 to 5 years, establishing a lasting tree cover along the river.


This includes indigenous fruit tree species such as durian dalit, durian sukang, tarap, nangka, chempedak, duku, mangga wani and belunu.


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