Following its establishment, the Group was allocated a concession area managed on a sustainable yield basis.
In managing this area, the Group is acutely aware of its obligations to carry out social programmes and also environmental responsibilities for future generations.
Towards this effort, the Group strives to manage its forest lands in an integrated and sustainable manner, for the most significant long-term benefits of the people. Hence, it will continue to adopt sound forest management practices, which are consistent with the state and national forestry development policies and legislations put in place over the years.
Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Rakyat Berjaya Sdn. Bhd. (RBJ) manages its forest concession area incoherent with the Sabah Forestry Department directive on Forest Certification to ensure the economic, social and environmental obligations and values comply with applicable certification standards.
In preparation to acquire the forest certification, significant studies such as High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Environmental Compliance Report (ECR) and Forest Fire Management Plans (FFMP) were established and carried out.
RBJ is the first organisation in Sabah to have been awarded the Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) statement for FMU 15 and 16 from Rainforest Alliance of New York under its Smartwood programme on May 26, 2010.
Acknowledging the importance of adopting a good working culture, RBJ has taken a step further by joining the Mentor-Mentee programme under the OSH Plan MP 15 established by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in 2015. In this programme, DOSH has invited RBJ as the mentor, and the mentee was the timber harvesting contractors and their respective sub-contractors.
As the mentor, RBJ has implemented appropriate training and guidance on matters related to occupational safety and health based on the guidelines provided by DOSH. To-date, RBJ has mentored nine forestry and non-forestry associated companies since 2009. The outcomes of the mentor-mentee programme have been very encouraging where the contractors are now able to mentor their sub-contractors on OSH as well as develop and conduct their OSH programmes.
Since 2006, RBJ won the National OSH trophies for ten consecutive years in recognition to their initiatives, dedication and contributions toward OSH implementation in Sabah. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health of Malaysia presented the award.
Further to that, RBJ, together with the Sabah Forestry Department, has embarked on a five-year commitment to have a third-party Independent Auditing on its Reduced Impact Logging (RIL)/Comprehensive Harvesting Plan operations. To optimise the economics of the concession area while not compromising the forest environment, RIL is engaged to extract commercial timbers. The auditing on Timber Legality and Assurance (TLAS) were carried out simultaneously in 2010.
RBJ together with the Sabah Forestry Department manages the Ulu Segama and Malua Forest Reserves under the Sustainable Forest Management area comprising 241,098 hectares of forest land. The area represents one of the largest expanses of forest in the southeastern part of Sabah and arguably has the largest concentration of flora and fauna, making it indeed a priceless heritage.
FOREST REHABILITATION AND PLANTATION
As a result of the reduction of natural timbers due to on-going logging, RBJ has made efforts to restore the logged-over forest through forest rehabilitation and restoration activities by way of mixed mosaic planting and silvicultural treatments. The activities are aimed to achieve sustainable forest management as required in the Sustainable Forest Management License Agreement (09/97). The forest rehabilitation and restoration activities carried out are as follows:
Integrated mosaic restoration and enrichment planting
Since 2011, RBJ has committed six different sites totaling approximately 83,126 ha in Sandakan, Keningau and Tawau for mosaic planting. The implementation is carried out by RBJ's logging contractors with the supervision from the Sabah Forestry Department and RBJ.
These activities have been carried out in Ulu-Segama Malua Forest Reserve (USM), Lahad Datu, Forest Management Unit (FMU) 15 & 16 in Keningau and Sandakan and Northern Gunung Rara Forest Reserve (NGR), FMU 24 in Tawau.
As of to-date, RBJ has applied silviculture treatments and has completed approximately 41,000 ha in USM, Lahad Datu. RBJ has also planted dipterocarp species of commercial value in about 4,000 ha within the 41,000 ha. A nursery with the capacity to accommodate 300,000 seedlings in Bukit Piton was also constructed by RBJ to provide planting materials to areas which require restoration.
Two areas in FMUs 15 & 16 of approximately 17,700 ha have been silviculturally treated. In addition to that, under a project awarded by the Sabah Forestry Department, RBJ has also carried out silviculture treatment in 5,000 ha in NGR Forest Reserve.
Industrial Tree Plantation
The Industrial Tree Plantation (ITP) is located in Kalabakan Forest Reserve and Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, which falls under the FMU 26 and FMU 24 respectively. The objective of planting the ITP is to enhance the productivity of the area by planting fast-growing tree species, especially Acacia mangium
. The allocated area earmarked for the ITP is 4,046 hectares. However, only 37% were developed according to land suitability. As at 2018, approximately 1,500 hectares have been planted with Acacia mangium, Acacia hybrid, Tectona grandis
(Teak) and Eucalyptus deglupta
Rubber Forest Plantation
Rubber Forest Plantation is carried out in FMU 26 in Kalabakan Forest Reserve at Luasong, Tawau, primarily for timber and latex.
As at 2018, approximately 2,000 hectares have been planted with rubber clones, and 25% of the area is tappable.
The Luasong Rubber Nursery has been producing rubber seedling from selected Timber Latex Clone (TLC) for its use. The nursery has 18 clones verified and endorsed by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB).