The mean annual rainfall in the area amounts to 2,217 mm, with an average mean of 184.8 mm/month and a broad range of variation from 40.8 mm to 545.4 mm.
The atmospheric temperature ranges from 28°C to 35°C with temperatures at night rarely falling below 18°C. The range between the warmest and coolest month is less than 5°C.
The mean monthly relative humidity ranges from 70% to 90%, depending on location and month.
The dominant soil formations are the Crocker and Maliau Associations, which cover about 83.9% of the Licenced Area. Soil types include Orthic Acrisols of Tanjong Lipat and Kapilit families and Chromic Cambisols of the Luasong family. Their texture varies from sandy clay loam to clay loam and they have a very low reserve of plant nutrients.
The topography ranges from gentle to considerably rugged terrain that is categorized into two classes of slope: 0º to 25º and greater than 25º. Large portions of the southwestern parts of Ulu Sg. Milian FR (BLOCK A) and the western parts of Sapulut FR (BLOCK B) are hilly, with elevations of more than 1,000 m above sea level. The slope classification indicates that approximately 60 % of the total area are undulating hills having slopes ranging from 0º to 25º.
The Licenced Area (BLOCK A) forms part of the watershed of the Milian River, which is the tributary of the Kinabatangan River, draining to the east coast. Most of the tributaries of Milian River have their headwaters in the Licenced Area, which flow down from the western portion of the FMU. Sg. Pingas and Sg. Labau flow from Trus Madi FR through Ulu Sg. Milian FR and join Sg. Pinangah and Sg. Melikop. All these rivers drain into the Milian River to form part of the upper Kinabatangan River drainage system.
Prior to year 1997 the Licenced Area was classified into six different forest types, however, three of these forest types are of minor occurrence. These include Limestone Forest, Kerangas or Heath Forest, and Lowland Dipterocarp mixed with Heath Forest. The three dominant forest types were Upland Mixed Dipterocarp Forests (UMDF); Upland Mixed Dipterocarp Forest mixed with Kerangas Forest (UMDF & KF) and Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forest (LMDF).
Seperately, there were four surveys on wildlife populations in the Licenced Area had been carried out in years 1998, 2011, 2014 and the latest in 2015, focused more in the Forest Plantation.
Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemenstrina), Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis), Red Leaf Monkey or Maroon Langur (Presbytis rubicunda) and Hose’s Langur (Presbytis hosei) were recorded during the survey in the forest plantation area.
Images of the Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemenstrina) were captured on camera traps, indicating their common presence in the forest plantation. The Long-tailed Macaque is believed to be common in the area. As well as red Leaf Monkey (Presbytis rubicunda) was also found in the riparian reserve of the forest plantation area.
The survey also found the presence of common ungulates through their footprints and on camera traps, mostly recorded adjacent to the natural forest management area. The species include Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor), Bornean Yellow Muntjac (Muntiacus atherodes), Common Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjac), Lesser Mouse-deer (Tragulus javanicus), Greater Mouse-deer (Tragulus napu) and Bearded Pig (Sus barbatus).
Other important species that were recorded during the survey include Storm’s Stork (Ciconia stormi) and Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), in the pond of the forest plantation.
Most of the other recorded species can be found in abundance in the surveyed area and also in other disturbed forest habitats almost throughout Sabah.
Only four reptile species were encountered during the survey. Such secretive wildlife species are difficult to detect, given the limited period undertaken to survey the area in which efforts focused on surveying mammals and birds.
The survey also recorded the presence of 20 species of frogs in the surveyed areas.
Hunting pressure (poaching) from the surrounding villages and outsiders is a potential threat which has also been the main constraint of protecting the wildlife in the easily accessed forest plantation area. However, this situation has been mitigated to a certain extent by erecting forest gates and patrol & enforcement unit that are used to monitor and control the access into the FMU. There are also joint operation with Sabah Wildlife Department in setting up road block in strategic area.
High Conservation Values
In forest plantation, it is still very important to preserve the forest values that are considered to be of outstanding significance or of critical importance, which are defined as High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF). The company has undertaken an assessment of HCVF present in the forest planttaion area, based on the WWF-Toolkit for Malaysia. A review and further refinement of HCVF was made during a study conducted in November 2015. The assessment revealed that the following HCV categories are present in the area:
HCV 1.1 (Protected areas),
HCV 1.4 (Critical Temporal Use),
HCV 2 (Landscape-level Forest),
HCV 4.1 (Watershed Protection),
HCV 4.2 (Erosion Control), and
HCV 6 (Cultural Identity of Local Communities).
Environment Impact Assesment (EIA)
A Special Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) was undertaken in June 2002 for all the activities to be conducted in the Licenced Area. The SEIA report was submitted to the Environment Protection Department (EPD), Sabah in February 2003. The process of the SEIA involved two sessions of public hearing and submissions and was approved on 6th June, 2003.
Following the SEIA approval, an agreement or “Surat Akujanji” was signed between BTSB and EPD on 9th June, 2003 to adhere to the environmental management standards and mitigation measures recommended in the SEIA report.
In the agreement, various mitigation measures were recommended to manage the impact of the forestry activities to be undertaken. The implementation of agreed mitigation measures is monitored by EPD through an Environmental Monitoring Programme, with 3 Environmental Compliance Reports produced every year. The ECR amongst others include the following aspects:
- Soil erosion & sedimentation
- Water quality
- Harvesting activities
- Planting activities
- Scheduled waste management
- Solid waste disposal
- Forest fire prevention and control
- Protection of sensitive areas (conservation zones and steep areas)
- Safety and health
Following the identification of any non-compliance BTSP will undertake corrective action to achieve full compliance with the environmental management prescriptions of both the Department of Environment (DOE) and Environment Protection Department (EPD).
Details of the forest monitoring results are provided in the Public Summary of Forest Monitoring as published on the company website.
In year 2011, a Social Baseline Survey (SBS) was carried out by BTSB in villages within and adjacent to the Licenced Area, in full consultation and cooperation with the SFD staff from Sook District Forestry Office, and officers from SFD Headquarters Sandakan.
In 2015, a more comprehensive Social Impact Assessment has been started to produce an overall report of the whole licensed area, specifically looking into the impact of Forest Plantation activities.
The purpose is also to refine the previous objectives on how to identify the needs of local communities for the design of community forestry projects within designated community compartments, to formulate development projects with participation of local communities.
There are 9 villages found within 2 km distance from the boundary of the Licenced Area. Only a single village (Kg. Wawasan, Cpt 59 of Ulu Sg Milian FR) is located within FMU 11 – Forest Plantation Area.
The 9 villages are Kg. Kilo, Kg. Pinipi, Kg. Kuit, Kg. Lanas Station, Kg. Alab Lanas, Kg. Batu Lunguyan, Kg. Paginatan, Kg. Kagasa and Kg. Matiku. It is estimated that there are about 2,130 people from these 10 villages within and adjacent to forest plantation area.
The Dusun form the main local communities residing at the vicinity and within Ulu Sg. Milian FR while the Murut communities dominate the population adjacent to Sapulut FR. The dominant religion in both areas is Christian.
In general, all villages and sub-villages are well connected with the main road. However, the road conditions from the highway to their respective villages vary from graveled to earth road.
Tradition, socioeconomic conditions and sociocultural practices of communities living inand around FMU#11 area are largely related and dependent on forests, non-forests products. Traditional land utilization practices such as small scale farming, gardening and hunting wild animals are part of their traditional livelihood. They utilise lands on sustainable manner through fallow and rotation systems.
Traditionally, local communities practice hunting and gathering of non-forest product. Hunting normally done for family consumption but do sell extra catches to the nearby market especially Nabawan Town for cash. Random survey during Tamu on Wednesday and Saturday at Nabawan Town revealed that some do have licenced but on occasion there is unlicensed hunter. Children growing up especially in the Murut and Dusun community are thought with traditional skills ranging from trapping wild animals to catching fish in the nearby rivers. When they become adults, such skills are used for family survival and thereafter such skills passed down to their children.
Water supply is not a major problem since almost all villages have installed piped-gravity water, except for Kg. Wawasan which depends on rainwater and river water.
Electricity supplied by SESB has reached 90% of the 10 villages. The rest have to rely either on generator sets or kerosene pump-lamps.
Kindergartens and or primary schools are available in some established villages with higher population density. Churches or chapels are available in 6 villages.
The household monthly cash incomes earned by the families of the respondents varies widely among the community and by area, locality, and village. About 80% of the households earn less than RM 700 per month. The percentage of households earning higher income ranges between 10% and 20% by area and village.
About 20% of the respondents own titled land, whilst 80% stated that they do not own any land or they are in the process of application for Native Titles. About 75% of the respondents claimed to have NCR, also inside the Licenced Area. These communities claim that they have been cultivating the lands before the Ulu Sg. Milian FR was gazetted as a Commercial FR.
The local communities living within and adjacent to the Licenced Area use their land(s) or farmland plots exclusively for agriculture farming. The most common cash crops planted are rubber and oil palm, while padi is planted mainly for subsistence. Other crops that have been planted include various fruit tree species. Based on field observations, there is no land that remains idle.
The population is fast growing and as a consequence, new generations would have to cope with smaller pieces of inherited land or none at all. Furthermore, most of their so called ‘land’ now belongs to other people, or to commercial oil palm companies. So, many have to search for new land and opened up sub-villages. Others claim land inside the Licenced Area especially adjacent to Forest Plantation Area in Block A as their NCR land, which subsequently caused conflicts and frictions between the concerned communities, BTSB, and the Sabah Forestry Department.
The villagers recognize the importance of watershed conservation as a source of clean water supply. The only watershed areas available are located within the Licenced Area. As a consequence, the communities are opposed to logging activities carried out by BTSB within identified watershed areas.
The challenge for BTSB is to create more awareness on the importance of the forest reserve in the livelihood of the community. Also the presence of BTSB as a license holder in the FMU 11, to develop forest plantation that will bring prosperity towards nation building in a sustainability way, benefiting the local community.
The majority of the forest area was previously comprised of Upland Mixed Dipterocarp Forests. Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forests and Kerangas Forests have almost disappeared over the past decades as a result of intensive logging and unsustainable management practices.
Current timber stocks are sub-divided into the following categories:
a) areas established with rubber plantations,
b) areas established with Acacia crassicarpa, and
c) areas stocked with degraded residual natural forests, scheduled for clearing, site preparation and replanting under the ITP scheme
Rubber timber volumes from plantations established between years 2008 and 2015 amount to 16,193 ha gross and 9.710 ha net with an estimated total stem volume of 437,904 m³, out of which 266,378 m³ are estimated to have commercial value.
Areas established with Acacia crassicarpa total 928 ha gross (800 ha net) in year 2004 currently hold an estimated total volume of 110,139 m³ with a saw log/chip log ratio of 37% to 63%.
Remaining salvage logging areas scheduled for plantation development cover about 26,000 ha gross area with an estimated net harvestable area of 20,800 ha. The estimated residual commercial volume for the whole area amounts to 873,600 m³.
Result of Forest Monitoring
Forest monitoring activities in the past were restricted to few elements, mainly covering licence boundaries and forest security, production volumes from timber harvesting, planting and maintenance operations, as well as social and environmental impacts of forest management activities.
Licence boundaries had been monitored throughout the previous and current plan period. Besides some limited encroachment into the FMU area by adjacent local communities no major violations of the company’s management rights was documented.
Harvesting volumes were regularly monitored throughout the current plan period and documented on compartment basis.
Environmental Compliance Reporting (ECR) has been carried out by a licenced EIA Consultant, according to the regulations and intervals prescribed by the Environment Protection Department. Key parameters assessed through water samples taken from six different sample locations at 4-monthly intervals include Biological and Chemical Oxygen Demand, Total Suspended Solids, Oil and Grease, Turbidity and Coliform count. Except for BOD and COD partially exceeding threshold values the water quality requirements of the NWQSM Class IIb Standard are mostly within the permitted value scale.
Systematic records of recyclable waste disposal exist since year 2014 only. These include steel scrap and scheduled wastes.
During the period 2011 to 2015 a total of 514 compliance criteria were assessed by the EIA consultant. The overall compliance ranking is 87%. Most of the non-compliances identified were rectified until the date of the next surveillance audit.
In the past, monitoring of social impacts was not carried out in a structured and systematic manner. Future social impact monitoring needs to be improved.
No accidents have been reported and documented until year 2005, when a recording procedure was first established. No serious injuries were reported in ITP areas during this period.
A system for forest fire prevention, detection and suppression has been developed and is implemented according to the provisions of the Forest Fire Management Plan (FFMP).
The risk of forest fire occurrence in the plantation area has been relatively low due to regular patrolling and monitoring activities. Only during the dry spell of year 2016 forest fires have occurred in several ITP compartments, caused by land preparation of farmers in surrounding villages.
Details of the forest monitoring results are provided in the Public Summary of Forest Monitoring as published on the company website.
High Conservation Values
Besides their economic value, forests also include environmental and social values, such as watershed and soil protection, habitats for wildlife, as well as areas important to the livelihood of local communities. Values of outstanding significance or critical importance are defined as High Conservation Values (HCV). In year 2011, the company has undertaken an assessment of High Conservation Values present in the Licenced Area, based on the WWF-Toolkit for Malaysia: A National Guide for Identifying, Managing and Monitoring High Conservation Value Forests, (WWF-Malaysia 2009). In year 2015 the HCVF concept was reviewed and further refined by a Consultant Team from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). The study revealed that except for HCV 2 (Landscape level forest) all of the six HCV categories are present in FMU No. 11. Management prescriptions for all identified HCV categories are described under the Future Forest Management Chapter.