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Sarawak makes 80% forest preservation commitment, but some have doubts

The Malaysian state of Sarawak is committing to the preservation of 80 percent of its land area as primary and secondary forest, according to an announcement by Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg made February 26 in the city of Kuching. But some in the conservation community are expressing doubt that these promises will come to fruition. Occupying the northern coast of Borneo, Sarawak’s rainforests are home to unique, disappearing species like endangered proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) and critically endangered Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). But plantation agriculture, timber harvesting and other development pressures have supplanted many areas of Sarawak forest, with data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) finding natural forest covered just under 65 percent of the state in 2010. Other research indicates the amount of 2010 forest coverage may be closer to 57 percent – much of that heavily degraded by logging, according a 2013 assessment. Sarawak’s remaining forests are home to threatened species like proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus). Research indicates much of Sarawak’s rainforest has been degraded by logging and other human activities. Photo by John Cannon. But in a speech presented to attendees of a business networking event called The Sarawak Dialogue, Chief Minister Abang Johari indicated the state will be working to preserve and restore the state’s rainforests. “Sarawak is a small state but it has its obligation in its role to preserve the environment,” Abang Johari said, as reported by regional media outlets. “We make sure that…

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