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Malaysian Companies Chip In to Save Rainforests

Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby has earmarked more than $7 million to restore a rainforest, home to the largest population of orangutans on Borneo. The endowment is part of increased efforts to save what is left of wilderness. From Kota Kinabalu, Luke Hunt reports.

The donation followed a call from the Malaysian government for contributions from companies to help rehabilitate the severely damaged forests in the northern state of Sabah. The state, on Borneo island, has seen widespread logging.

Sime Darby will devote $7.2 million over 10 years in the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve. The money will be spent on replanting and securing a home for up to 500 orangutans across 5,400 hectares.

Sime Darby, which among other things operates oil palm plantations, says the endowment represents good corporate governance.

"This also shows the government commitment and seriousness about conservation, especially our very endangered species like the orangutan," says Musa Aman, Sabah's chief minister.

Orangutans are endangered large apes that live in the trees of Borneo's rainforests.

More contributions for the Ulu Segama project have been promised from British department store chain Marks and Spencer, the WWF environmental group, and the Leaf Organization, which is dedicated to environmentally friendly and sustainable farming.

Sabah has won international praise for the way it has managed its rain forests. This is in contrast to the devastation wreaked on the jungles of neighboring Kalimantan in Indonesia, where forests are cut down to clear land for growing palm oil or for timber.