Govt lists out initiatives aimed at conserving forests, wildlife

KUCHING: The state government has undertaken a number of initiatives slated for the conservation of its forests and wildlife, with combating illegal logging and ensuring corporations to strictly adhere to proper, sustainable practices in timber harvesting.

Permanent secretary to Ministry of Resources Planning and Environment Ministry Datu Sudarsono Osman said the state government was in the process of identifying priority conservation areas with a view for systematic conservation planning (SCP) and coming up with a list of priority areas to be regarded as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs).

“I would like to acknowledge World Wide Fund of Nature (WWF) and appreciate its collaboration towards establishing such effort.

“Another significant programme is the ‘Heart of Borneo’ project, in conjunction with WFF, which focuses on creating a contiguous network of wildlife corridors traversing Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan,” he said after launching the ‘Fig Garden Project for Hornbill Habitat Enhancement’ at Matang Wildlife Centre here yesterday.

He underlined another initiative by the government, which was the certification of Forest Management Unit (FMUs) aimed at ensuring that logging practices and forest products would be sustainable.

He said towards this end, all licenses should have at least one of their FMUs certified by July next year.

Sudarsono also stressed that the state government had opened itself to scrutiny by relevant parties, including inviting and collaborating with reputable international organisations to conduct researches in TPAs across the state.

“The research for Intensified Management of Bio-Rich Areas (Rimba) Sarawak is a platform where renowned foreign researchers and institutions collaborate with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and other local scientists on biodiversity research, towards understand our resources better and provide science-based management of our TPAs.”

On conservation efforts, Sudarsono believed that they would need the strong support not only from the government, but also from everyone.

“If every one of us does our small bit, such accumulative effort could be significant.

“I would like to cite the Piasau Camp in Miri as an example. At one stage, it was imminent that the camp would be converted into a business project.

However when the people of Miri rallied and demanded in one voice for the camp to be a nature reserve for hornbills and also the ‘green lung’ of the city, the government acceded to it.

“Another example is Ulu Menyang in Batang Ai — an area that was licensed out for logging. However, surveys have found that some parts of the forests are the habitat for orangutans; thus, the state government has revoked the logging licences in favour of conservation of the orangutans and other wildlife therein,” he explained.

Sudarsono also highlighted the benefits that the Ulu Menyang folk received following the cancellation of the timber licences.

“The area has become a hub of eco-tourism activities, which involve bringing tourist to see the orangutans. In this regard, I would like to encourage more participation from all stakeholders in our conservation efforts. ”