Prof. Dr Japar Sidik Bujang - Dean of UPM's Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences planting a 'billian' or 'Borneo ironwood' tree in conjunction with International Year of Forest 2011 celebration held at UPM Bintulu campus.

Sarawak can enjoy revenue generated by it rich natural forest resources years to come if there was an adequate regeneration of the natural forest said a Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) don.

But to ensure an adequate regeneration of natural forest and there must be a form of human intervention in the process said Prof. Dr Japar Sidik Bujang at a tree planting event held at the university campus here today.

A total of 1500 trees from 20 different species endemic to Sarawak were planted during the event by nearly 200 people comprising of university lectures, government officials, university students including six undergraduates from University of Brunei and school children from SMK Bandar Bintulu.

The event was organized by UPM in conjunction with the International Year of Forest.

“What we are doing here today is part of the human intervention that will help regeneration of our natural forest processes,” Prof Japar said.

As the state developing, he said, there will be more pressure put on government to cut the state natural forest to make way for high yield mono-crop like oil palm, rubber and cocoa.

If there is no effort put toward helping natural forest regeneration, Sarawak would eventually losing its major source of income the natural resources of forest within the next few decades, Prof. Japar warned.

According to Japar, forest regeneration efforts could be accelerated via a tested technique called ‘Accelerating Natural Vegetation and Vegetation Association’.

The technique was developed by Prof Dr Akira Miyawaki from Yokohama National University and Prof Datuk Nik Muhamad Ab Majid, former dean of Agriculture and Food Sciences Faculty.

In a natural environment, Japar explained it would tak time for seedlings from trees to germinate, then grow to maturity because of various conditions and restrictions.

“We take all seedlings of various tree species in the forests. Grow them in our nurseries, take good care of them to make sure they grow before planting them back in the forests.

“In a way, this already helps accelerate the growth of the seedlings as we have put perfect conditions for them to grow, unlike in the natural forest environment where they might not growing at all,” he said.

Japar also thanked participants of the programme, adding that response had been overwhelming.

He urged them to bring the message on the importance of forest preservation and regeneration effort to their friends, families and communities.

“Although what we do looks small in scale, it is very significant not only to us but also to our future generation as it will ensure that those after us can still see the same forests we have today,” Japar said.

The Bruneians who joined the programme said they were very impressed with the works and enthusiasm of people here.

Nurul Afiqah Nor Amin said it made her proud of her country as it forests still remained intact.

“It’s so easy to destroy but very difficult to grow back. But the good thing is the conservation efforts are not merely talk. People actually take action,” she said.

Diane Chan said: “My Father owns a sawmill in Brunei and import most of the timber from here. I have no idea how large the forests here have been cut. But now it’s good to know that the trees are being gradually replanted and I hope the effort would continue.

Japar said UPM started the programme since the opening of its Bintulu campus several years back.

“This conservation effort not only improves Malaysia’s image internationally but also increases awareness of forest preservation and protection locally.

This story was also published by Star (Sarawak) on October 9, 2011 – page: News S7