Conservation efforts under Sime Darby Foundation’s Environment Pillars have planted over 1.5 million trees in conservation areas in Malaysia with encouraging results.
Sime Darby Foundation (SDF) plans for its conservation programs heeds the clarion call from the United Nation’s Biodiversity Conference to address the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The 15th meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will take place in Kunming, China in 2021 where global leaders are anticipated to agree to an aggressive plan of action on biodiversity.
In pledging the Foundation’s continued commitment to protecting biodiversity, Chairman Y.A.M Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar stated that:
“We believe that forest restoration is key in tackling climate crisis and biodiversity conservation. Our tree-planting projects have turned deteriorating forests into areas of biodiversity value for flora and fauna.
Our multi-year project to restore orangutan habitat in Ulu Segama, Sabah, in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department and Sime Darby Plantation (SDP), restored 4,487 hectares of heavily degraded forest areas by planting over 300,000 trees to create a sustainable habitat for orangutans.
The Sime Darby Plant-A-Tree programme which began in 2008 has planted about 500,000 trees to increase biodiversity value in SDP’s operational areas. The arboretum in SDP has actually proven to be an invaluable gene bank for endemic tree species of Malaysia.”
The Foundation’s most ambitious reforesting project to date is a collaboration with Nestlé Malaysia. The project has planted over 750,000 trees along the lower Kinabatangan River. This has resulted in a dynamic wildlife corridor for iconic Bornean wildlife including elephants and proboscis monkeys.
The Chairman added further that support for Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC) to conserve tree species endemic to Borneo has so far planted 2,310 trees to develop a Tropical Rainforest Living Collection (TRLC) in Sabah.
In Peninsular Malaysia, the Foundation’s collaboration with the Global Environment Centre (GEC) has planted over 20,000 trees to rehabilitate the Raja Musa Forest Reserve to maintain the ecological value of its peatlands.
Sime Darby Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin said these endeavours have added values in creating employment opportunities for the local communities around the project sites.
“As the world reels from the impact of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to address biodiversity and climate change in our efforts to reset our relationship with nature.
In all the projects supported by the Sime Darby Foundation, we put the needs of local communities on the same level of importance as conservation. In addition to terrestrial conservation, the Foundation works with the Marine Research Foundation (MRF) which specialises on seascape level conservation and Reef Check Malaysia which works to increase the ecological resilience of coral reefs around Malaysia.
The work at MRF helps in developing sustainable fisheries through bycatch mitigation by working with local fishermen and relevant authorities. At Tioman Island, initiatives for reef conservation and the social resilience of its community aim to make Tioman the first sustainable island on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia,” said Dr Yatela.
To further protect endangered wildlife, the Foundation has been putting more boots on the ground by supporting anti-poaching efforts.
In Sabah, SDF supports a program with the Sabah Forestry Department and Danau Girang Field Centre. The thrust of the program is to battle the increase in poaching while gathering information to fill in critical gaps in conservation information.
With the Perak State Parks Corporation, the project seeks to protect various species at Royal Belum State Park, especially the Malayan tiger which faces a serious threat from cross-border poachers.
Sime Darby Foundation’s environmental endeavours also aim to influence policies in wildlife conservation through science and research.
“Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) played an important role in the direction of the National Elephant Conservation Action Plan while leading initiatives in elephant habitat protection in peninsular Malaysia. Through a collaboration with SDP, MEME helped produce an evidence-based company policy within SDP’s Responsible Agriculture Charter to tackle human-elephant conflict issues in plantations,” Dr. Yatela added.
Beyond these initiatives, the Foundation is collaborating with GEC in a mangrove conservation and sustainable livelihood programme in the state of Perak. The program duration from 2020 to 2023 is expected to benefit more than 9,000 community members. SDF believes that the inclusion of local communities in conservation projects creates a sense of their ownership of the project which leads to long-lasting impact.
In a project with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation which will run from 2021-2023, the Sime Darby Foundation is supporting conservation in Maludam National Park (MNP). MNP covers an area of 432 square kilometres making it the second-largest park in Sarawak. MNP is also home to the only viable population of the Sarawak Red Langur (Presbytis Chrysomelas) in Malaysian Borneo.