Friday, November 02, 2012

Proposal to make Kota Kinabalu Wetlands a Ramsar site

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Biodiversity Centre is proposing that the 24-hectare Kota Kinabalu Wetlands be made as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention.

“It hopes to forward the paper to the Ministry of Nature Resource and Environment earliest by November or December,” said Sabah Biodiversity Centre director Dr Abdul Fatah Amir.

He said feedback from the public would be compiled and forwarded to the State Cabinet and relevant departments.

Once the report was approved by the Cabinet, Fatah said the centre would forward it to the Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment in Kuala Lumpur.

He said the centre would try to expedite the process and aimed to complete it by November or December.

Fatah said this in an interview after the third dialogue with stakeholders here yesterday. Among the objectives of the dialogue were to inform the need and importance to register Kota Kinabalu Wetlands as a Ramsar site as well as to obtain input and feedback from stakeholders regarding this matter.

Fatah said the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands was designated as a Ramsar site in October 2008, a mere five months after the process, which included stakeholder and state agency meetings and workshops, begun in May the same year.

He pointed out that the concerns of property owners near Kota Kinabalu Wetlands raised in the dialogue, such as whether future development plans would be restricted once Kota Kinabalu Wetlands achieved Ramsar status was not related to Ramsar.

Earlier in the dialogue, Fatah explained that Ramsar was not a legal binding treaty, meaning Ramsar dids not create laws or regulations.

“Ramsar uses managing plan as guidance which complies with existing laws,” he said, adding that Ramsar dids not restrict development but used existing laws such as Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 or the Environmental Protection Enactment to guide property development.

Fatah pointed out that Ramsar was more on how to maintain the quality of ecosystem to preserve existing endangered species.

After achieving Ramsar status, there would be a managing plan which would be developed with the stakeholders, Fatah said.

He assured that the managing plan, which used existing laws as a guideline to maintain the quality of the site, would not be imposed on stakeholders as it would be developed based on consensus with the stakeholders.