Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hands off KK Wetlands


KOTA KINABALU: City Hall will not allow any form of development in the city’s wetland area which some quarters are eyeing with keen interest as it sits on prime land.

Mayor, Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim yesterday assured the citizens that it would not entertain any proposal for development in the sensitive wetlands.

“This area would be maintained as a wetland conservation reserve for the benefit of our future generations,” he said.

The centre formerly known as the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary was gazetted as a bird sanctuary in 1996 during the tenure of Datuk Yong Teck Lee as Chief Minister and was declared a Cultural Heritage Site in 1998.

“The centre was opened to the public in 2000 and visitors’ arrival has been very encouraging with a total of 61,176 visitors since then,” Iliyas said in his speech at the launch of the “Invest in the Young and the Future” project at the centre. City Hall director general, Dr Chua Kim Hing read out the Mayor’s speech.

In spite of development pressure, he said the state government was willing to forgo potential revenue and structural development to have the wetland centre preserved as a green lung and buffer zone in the city.

The centre is located in the Kota Kinabalu Local Plan and zoned as Landscape and Open Space by City Hall.

The specific zoning for the centre is for Park and Open Space, which are identified as wetland conservation reserve for bird sanctuary, he explained.

“The existing scheme is considered as a strong document for development control purposes while at the same time is in accordance with the City Hall theme to promote Kota Kinabalu City as Nature Resort City,” Iliyas said.

As the green lung and buffer zone of the city, he said the quality of life and the surrounding environment could be improved with the presence of a mangrove eco-system.

“The mangrove eco-system in the centre can help tremendously in terms of being a flood retention system thus preventing possible flooding downstream as well as recycling nutrients and removing toxicants and sediments in the mangrove waters,” he added.

Hence, he said the centre was not only a much needed natural environment in the city, it was also strategically located to be an environmental education centre, eco-tourism attraction, urban recreation, environmental conservation effort and nature appreciation for people of all ages as well as supporting the city theme as the Nature Resort City.

He believed that the “Invest in the Young and the Future” project was an excellent effort for engaging people in wetland conservation through environmental education and community empowerment.

The project is supported by HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad, WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society towards wetlands conservation especially in the urban setting.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

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