Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sabah committed to protecting biodiversity, ecosystem

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah remains committed to protecting its biodiversity and ecosystem, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

He disclosed that to date over 21 per cent of the state’s land are gazetted as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs), arguably the largest in Malaysia.

This percentage exceeds the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent and even the Convention on Biological Diversity target of 17 per cent of various types of ecosystems.

“We are on track to expand the size of our TPAs to 30 per cent of Sabah’s land mass within a decade,”he said when officiating at the International Conference on Bridging Heart of Borneo (HoB) Landscapes and Beyond through Healthy Watershed Corridors held here yesterday.

Musa said that both the federal and state governments are placing efforts in the conservation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity which is reflected in the government’s commitment to various initiatives such as the Heart of Borneo and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Malaysia’s commitment biodiversity management is strengthened through the country’s involvement in various multilateral environmental agreements and regional conservation initiatives, he added.

According to him, the State Government through the Sabah Forestry Department has always been committed to the HOB initiative and has in fact designated about four million hectares of the state’s landmass, mainly comprising important inland and highland forest ecosystems, as part of this programme.

The initiative is very much in line with the mission of the Sabah Forestry Department to plan and implement management of the state’s forest resources in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management, incorporating biodiversity conservation, Musa stressed.

HoB member countries, according to Musa, recognise the interconnection of forests, wetlands and coral reefs, and the necessity to maintain ecological corridors between terrestrial and marine biodiversity.

“The health of watershed corridors between the HoB landscapes and reefs are vital to ensure that clean water reaches the people, and also to wetlands and marine ecosystems where wildlife is abundant.

Likewise, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands within HoB landscapes and beyond are indispensable for supporting life, and must be conserved and restored. The earthquake in June this year has not only affected livelihoods of those living within and adjacent to the highlands of Mount Kinabalu, but has also severely affected rivers and water sources.

“While this was a natural disaster, we should draw lessons that reasons such as poor management of resources have an adverse impact on our environment,” he said.

Musa said another contribution the success of Sabah’s efforts in conservation is the commitment to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

There are six Ramsar sites in Malaysia and the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands in Sabah is the largest covering three forest reserves, he said, adding that a 10-year management plan has been jointly formulated by the State Government through Sabah Biodiversity Centre, Natural Resources Office and Forestry Department in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to manage this site.