Monday, January 09, 2006

Brunei, M'sia, Indonesia called to preserve rainforest

KOTA KINABALU - The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has proposed to the three governments of countries which share Borneo island to conserve a huge area of rainforest known as the "Heart of Borneo", Bernama reported.

WWF-Malaysia chairman Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin Tengku Mansoor said Saturday that it was important for the three governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to work together in order to protect the 220,000 sq km rainforest, the second largest in the world after the Amazon in South America.

The forest straddles the transboundary highlands of the three countries, and reaches out from the foothills into the adjacent lowlands.

Tengku Adlin said WWF believed that conservation could be done through international cooperation by the three governments in creating a network of protected areas which were sustainably managed and supported by global efforts.

He said this after launching a WWF-Malaysia book entitled "Kogiu and the Banana Tree - In the Lower Kinabatangan".

WWF said deforestration in Borneo due to intensive logging, conversion to plantations, unsustainable subsistence farming as well as forest fires since 1996 appeared to have increased to an average of two million hectares per year.

If no effective action is taken, a recent WWF report predicted, all lowland rainforests in Kalimantan - the Indonesian part of Borneo - will disappear by 2010.

Asked on the response by the three governments to the Heart of Borneo idea mooted by WWF last year, Tengku Adlin said it was good and the issue was even discussed by delegates at the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur last month.

On the book, he said it was meant to educate school children about the need to conserve forests and their inhabitants.

Copies of the illustrated bilingual book, in English and Bahasa Malaysia, which was authored by Ruth Lim, have been distributed free to 37 schools in the Kinabatangan district in Sabah. The book is available for sale to the general public at Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd and Borneo Books.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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