Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan said by meeting the standards set under RSPO on environment and governance, Sabah would be able to compete effectively with other countries as a sustainable palm oil producer.
RSPO is an international non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable palm oil products through global standards.
“The whole state of Sabah (palm oil produced in the state) will become certified by 2025 and this can be achieved by pooling all players including smallholders to achieve economies of scale and efficiency,” he said during a media briefing at the Sabah Forestry Department Office here recently.
He said the forestry department was working with palm oil players under the RSPO jurisdiction programme as the industry assumed a key role in contributing to the state’s exports.
In meeting the jurisdiction set by RSPO, he said, one major initiative undertaken was to assess and define the different types of forest.
By scanning the forest and categorising them into categories such as native land, forest reserve or heavy carbon stock areas, would facilitate analysis and policy decision.
However, there are still challenges in the jurisdiction process, particularly, in sorting out the definition for land with high conservation value (HCV) and what constituted deforestation.
This, according to Sam was important in sorting out compensation and forest that needed to be set aside and not be touched for any purpose.
According to RSPO principles and criteria, growers are required to complete HCV assessment on land for new plantings from November 2005.
Meanwhile, RSPO Technical Director Salahudin Yaacob said: “Any planting after 2005, must be done together with HCV study and any conversion of land must not impinge HCV areas”.
He said this was necessary as certification cannot be granted under RSPO if any planting was done on HCV areas after 2005.
Any conversion of HCV land, he added, would have to be accompanied by a compensation plan evaluated and approved by the RSPO panel.
Cynthia Ong, Board Chair and Chief Executive Facilitator of Forever Sabah, a non-governmental organisation, told the briefing that discussions were necessary as to who should compensate for deforestation in land areas under HCV after 2005.
“Does this involve the state government which has to compensate for land under the Total Protected Areas (TPA). This is still up for discussions,” she added.