Sep 23, 2017, updated August 2014
The Kinabatangan is the longest river in Sabah flowing from East to West. It has been the site of tremendous landscape change, from large scale logging in the 1960’s to the heart of oil palm production from the 1980’s onwards. As a result of its mega-biodiversity, it has also become the focal point for conservation interests.
Project RiLeaf is a reforestation initiative by Nestlé to create a landscape where people, nature and agriculture (oil palm), are united by their common source of vitality - water - and to demonstrate that mutual co-existence is possible for all stakeholders.
PROJECT RILEAF: Promoting biodiversity in Malaysia.
A primary focus will be on the riparian reforestation of the Lower Kinabatangan. Operations are strung along a 110 km zone of the Lower Kinabatangan, aiming to achieve forest connectivity, as well as minimise water pollution from sedimentation and agricultural run-offs, by the restoration of a ‘green’ buffer zone – in effect to provide “RiLeaf” such that the river has a better chance to repair itself.
Riparian reforestation is done by actively involving local community within the area to supply forest tree seedlings and provide services for their plantings as well, and actual works have already started since mid-2011. RiLeaf’s objective is to plant more than 100,000 forest seedlings over the next 12 months.
Value to Society
- The project aims to reforest 2,400 hectares of land along the lower Kinabatangan River in Sabah. Project RiLeaf will provide a natural buffer to filter pollutants, mainly soil sediments and chemical fertilizer run-off, giving the river a chance to repair itself over time.
- While it is too early to gauge the improvements to the eco-system, the local community has seen immediate benefits, earning MR 207,305 through the production and replanting of the seedlings since the start of the project.
- As of December 2013, more than 179,800 trees have beeen planted.
Value to Nestlé
I’m delighted to say that the establishment of Project RiLeaf will form the foundation of environmental awareness and such projects should be made as a benchmark for other organizations so that they too can follow in the positive footsteps of Nestle to ensure that the natural environment of our country is preserved. Yang Berhormat Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment of Sabah
Oil Palm Sustainability engagement of RiLeaf seeks to reduce environmental impact of oil palm plantings through minimisation of chemical fertilizers via a “back-to-nature” soils amendment approach, as well as “back-to-basic” Good Agricultural Practices, and will involve technical trials and piloting field test plots focusing on such.
As a full member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Nestlé is committed to the development and procurement of sustainable palm oil.
With the support of University Malaysia Sabah, Nestlé is currently exploring opportunities to engage with palm oil smallholders, especially those within the Kinabatangan floodplains. The aim of the engagement will be to educate them on reducing the environmental impact of oil palm plantings through the minimisation of chemical fertilizers, and “back-to-basics” Good Agricultural Practices.
In November 2013, the project received two years of funding worth approximately CHF 536,599 (MR 2 million) from the Sime Darby Foundation, which will help fund day-to-day operations, as well as new initiatives and other activities associated with the project. It will help to regenerate the river through the replanting of trees, creating a harmonious landscape for people and nature to co-exist with water, and also support capacity building of local communities. Two partners, KAPOK and HABITAT, provide indigenous seedlings for reforestation; local contractors for demarcation, planting and maintenance work and, potentially, homestay lodges.