Call to preserve Kuala Baram Wetlands project site

MIRI: More environmental conservation projects must be carried out at the 600ha Kuala Baram Wetlands project site near the Sarawak-Brunei border.

State Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said there must be tight control over human development projects in that area, 25km north of Miri city, as the site is an important migratory ground for rare birds from all over the world.

Speaking at a gathering at the Kuala Baram wetlands site during the weekend, he said Kuala Baram Wetlands is an ecologically fragile area where rare migratory birds from around the globe take shelter.

The birds from America, Europe, central Asia and China come here during winter enroute to Australia, he said.

“The state government will only allow projects that do not disturb the ecosystem to be carried out here.

“We will not allow projects that can harm the environment, animals and birds there,” he said.

He said more aggressive replanting of trees must be carried out at the wetlands as the place is a refuge for endangered migratory birds.

Lee said many plots of land there had been cleared.

“The areas affected by human development projects like land clearing for industrial buildings or residential estates should be earmarked for replanting.

“We need to replant plenty of trees and plants since Kuala Baram wetlands has been confirmed as a transit pathway for birds that annually migrate from the northern hemisphere to the southern continents during the year-end winter months.

“These trees and bushes will help to provide much-needed shelter and food sources for these birds to continue their journey to their nesting and breeding grounds,” he said.

Lee said the place should be turned into a nature reserve although the land belonged to private owners.

He said Tan Sri Adenan Satem, the late chief minister, had wanted the place to be conserved.

“So far we have documented 132 species of birds that use Kuala Baram as their refuge during their annual migration.

“Many of these species are rare. That is why we must find a way to work with the company that owns the land and the population living there to protect the place from being over-developed.

“We have found the Chinese Tern here. Only about 1,500 are left in the world.

“We have also found Sparrow Hawk, Bluebird, Rufous Woodpecker and Chinese Egret, among others,” he said.

Lee said the Kuala Baram wetlands has the potential to be a major tourism draw among nature lovers and bird watchers.

There are international nature conservation organisations that are interested in the Kuala Baram region because of its uniqueness, he said.