Plans afoot to form green belt between Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park
THE success of Bundu Tuhan folks in preserving their own tract of green will figure largely in a novel scheme being undertaken by Sabah Parks.
Villagers in Ranau, Sabah, are being encouraged to establish their own community forests, too, the way the Bundu Tuhan people have done. The idea is that when these parcels of greenery are combined, they will form a green belt linking two major wildlife sanctuaries – Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park.
Both parks sit on the Crocker Range but are no longer contiguous as farms and settlements have sprouted within the 10km of land between them. This results in the parks becoming fragmented and isolated from each other, which effectively reduces the size of habitats and subsequently, the viability of animal and plant populations.
Last March, Sabah Parks commissioned ERE Consulting Group to study ways and means to create a forested corridor. One hurdle that stands in the way is land utilisation around the parks. Though chunks of forest remain, many people have lived there for generations.
“Most of the land within the identified corridor, though stateland, is also within native customary land and traditional village boundaries. We cannot create new parks or forest reserves (to form the corridor), so the way to go is community forests,” says ERE environmental consultant Randolph S. Jeremiah.
The consultants have met the people of 31 communities living within the boundaries of the proposed corridor, to explain the plan. “The community must first agree and be willing to do this,” says ERE managing director Dr G. Balamurugan. “Most are agreeable, though some are sceptical and fear that their land will be taken away.”
He stresses that the corridor will not be just about wildlife. “This is why we call it an ‘ecological link’ and not wildlife corridor as it is more than just for wildlife movement. Migrating wildlife will help disperse seeds. Protecting the corridor will also protect water supply and ensure the community’s continued use of the forest.”
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