Tuesday, September 04, 2012

WWF calls for committee to address pollution problem in Kinabatangan River

KOTA KINABALU: WWF-Malaysia shares the public’s concern about the perennial pollution problem in the Kinabatangan River, as highlighted in the local media on numerous occasions.

Hailed as a corridor of life, the Kinabatangan area is identified as home to more than 250 bird species, 50 mammal species, 20 reptile species, 1,056 plant species and several world-renowned conservation sites such as the Lower Kinabatangan – Segama Wetlands Ramsar Site.

However, the area is now getting a name for its decline in water quality mainly due to pollution. Palm oil mills and oil palm plantations located in the area are said to be the main culprits.

WWF-Malaysia is of the view that it is now timely to put in place a strong institution to act as the lead body in protecting the biodiversity of Kinabatangan.

Presently, a number of federal and states agencies as well as local NGOs address pollution problems as they arise. The result is a rather ad hoc collection of uncoordinated approaches, with considerable gaps and overlaps. This has led to some pollution problems not being adequately and promptly dealt with.

“WWF-Malaysia has been implementing conservation projects in the Kinabatangan area since late 1970s. A large-scale strategic programme to secure the long-term viability of wildlife populations in the area began in late 1998 and has continued to the present. WWF-Malaysia exited the landscape in July 2011 so that a more permanent institution could take over – ensuring that conservation and sustainable development takes place,” said the executive director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.

“The WWF-Malaysia’s Kinabatangan Corridor of Life (KCol) team actively worked towards setting all the necessary ‘enabling factors’ to establish a system that would allow continuous protection of the area by empowering the stakeholders and local communities so that they are able to undertake sustainable conservation. This includes working with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment to develop a policy directive for the area, with the ultimate goal of forming the KCol Management Committee (KMC), a body responsible towards managing the area holistically,” he said.