Sunday, May 06, 2007

Malaysia plans forest recovery to conserve orangutan

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian authorities have proposed a multi-million dollar scheme to regenerate a heavily logged forest in a bid to save its orangutan population, a report said Sunday.

A fund of 200 million ringgit (59 million dollars) will be used to replant trees to restore the Ulu Segama-Malua forest in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.

The most important objective will be the conservation of the region's 3,000 orangutan population, Sam Mannan, a director with the local forestry department, told the Sunday Star newspaper.

He said the Ulu Segama-Malua ecological zone was among Sabah's "crown jewels" as it also contains a diverse array of plants.

The work will cover 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of logged forests as well as replanting 1,000 hectares of degraded forests.

Scientists recently claimed that Borneo island's orangutans were under threat of extinction because of disappearing habitat.

A study completed in September of orangutans and other animals along the Kinabatangan river, in central Sabah province, said the apes could face extinction in less than 50 years unless immediate conservation was undertaken.

Chunks of forest in Malaysia's Borneo, where orangutans live, have been carved away by private land ownership, mainly plantations, used to grow crops.

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