The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Oil palm grow­ers in Al­liance to pro­tect orang­utan


KIN­ABATAN­GAN: An al­liance of oil palm grow­ers, busi­nesses and con­ser­va­tion prac­ti­tion­ers, called PONGO Al­liance, is de­vel­op­ing guide­lines for best man­age­ment prac­tices (BMP) to sup­port sus­tain­able palm oil pro­duc­tion that in­cludes safe spa­ces for wild orang­utans out­side of pro­tected ar­eas.

With a vi­sion to make re­silient land­scapes for wildlife and peo­ple a re­al­ity, PONGO Al­liance uses an ev­i­dence-based ap­proach, that has found some orang­utans not only sur­vived large-scale habi­tat loss in the 1980s and 1990s but adapted to a land­scape of for­est patches and oil palm plan­ta­tion.

PONGO Al­liance Kin­abatan­gan project di­rec­tor Dr Felic­ity Oram said that mea­sures can be put in place to sup­port co-ex­is­tence of the sur­viv­ing wild orang­utan pop­u­la­tion where only ten per cent of the half-mil­lion-hectare land area is for­est.

“We need to bet­ter un­der­stand orang­utan habi­tat needs in this al­tered land­scape and work out how to fa­cil­i­tate hu­man and orang­utan co-ex­is­tence in the long term. In prac­tice, this means leav­ing wild orang­utans wher­ever they are in the land­scape and de­vel­op­ing bet­ter ways to sup­port the adap­tions these an­i­mals have made thus far,” she added.

Un­der a two-year spon­sor­ship agree­ment ti­tled ‘Cre­ation of a Hu­man and Orang­utan Coex­is­tence Land­scape in

Kin­abatan­gan’, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has com­mit­ted RM1.2 mil­lion to en­able the pro­gramme to con­duct de­tailed in­for­ma­tion­gath­er­ing, en­gage­ment with var­i­ous play­ers, and de­velop best man­age­ment prac­tices.

The spon­sor­ship is in line with

YSD En­vi­ron­ment pil­lar’s fo­cus area of pro­tect­ing and pre­serv­ing vul­ner­a­ble and en­dan­gered species; as well as the ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness fo­cus area as it in­volves build­ing aware­ness within oil palm plan­ta­tion com­mu­ni­ties, en­vi­ron­men­tal NGOs, govern­ment agen­cies, and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties.

YSD chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dr Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin noted that re­search has shown that fe­male orang­utans live and raise their young in for­est frag­ments sur­rounded by oil palms, while the males travel long dis­tances through oil palm plan­ta­tions be­tween these patches.

“This project aims to find out in more de­tail what is go­ing on in Kin­abatan­gan, to the level of in­di­vid­ual orang­utans,” she said.

“We hope that this ef­fort will also as­sist grow­ers and NGOs alike to view and man­age oil palm for­est land­scapes in favour of hu­man-orang­utan coex­is­tence; govern­ment agen­cies to de­velop a new pol­icy on orang­utan man­age­ment; and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to un­der­stand that such coex­is­tence is pos­si­ble in mixed land­scapes such as those com­pris­ing oil palm plan­ta­tions and forests,” she added.

Full part­ner com­pa­nies in­volved in this par­a­digm shift that have hold­ings in the project en­gage­ment area in­clude Sime Darby Plan­ta­tion Ber­had (SDP), which hosts the sec­re­tariat of PONGO Al­liance; and Sabah-based part­ner, Sawit Kin­a­balu, which has com­mit­ted 3,757 hectares of its land area to con­ser­va­tion se­ta­sides.

SDP’s group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mo­hamad Helmy Oth­man Basha said the ini­tia­tive by PONGO Al­liance aligns with SDP’s am­bi­tion to achieve a de­for­esta­tion-free palm oil in­dus­try and the Com­pany looks for­ward to im­ple­ment­ing the BMP at its es­tates.

“We are cog­nisant of the need and im­por­tance of safe­guard­ing the habi­tats of en­dan­gered species and will not only con­tinue to work with like-minded or­gan­i­sa­tions such as YSD and our part­ners in the PONGO Al­liance but en­cour­age other plan­ta­tion com­pa­nies to come on board to achieve this goal,” said Helmy.

Helmy also noted that the project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with PONGO Al­liance is a log­i­cal fol­low-up on YSD’s 10-year col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sabah Forestry Depart­ment on the ‘Re­for­esta­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of orang­utan habi­tat in North­ern Ulu Segama (presently known as Bukit Pi­ton For­est Re­serve)’ project. He ex­plained that the RM25 mil­lion project, in which SDP pro­vided its tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and as­sis­tance, im­proved orang­utan habi­tat by plant­ing 1,448,822 trees within the pre­vi­ously highly de­graded For­est Re­serve and con­trib­uted eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the lo­cal com­mu­nity in the sur­round­ing area.

More in­for­ma­tion on the ini­tia­tives of PONGO Al­liance is avail­able on www.pon­goal­

 ??  ?? PONGO Al­liance Kin­abatan­gan project di­rec­tor Dr Felic­ity Oram (fourth right) in the field with oil palm plan­ta­tion part­ners.
PONGO Al­liance Kin­abatan­gan project di­rec­tor Dr Felic­ity Oram (fourth right) in the field with oil palm plan­ta­tion part­ners.
 ??  ?? A flanged male orang­utan spot­ted by re­search staff for PONGO Al­liance.
A flanged male orang­utan spot­ted by re­search staff for PONGO Al­liance.

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