Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sarawak to have National Parks and Wildlife Department next year

KUCHING: The management of national parks and wildlife in the state is expected to be more systematic and effective with the establishment of the National Parks and Wildlife Department that would be in operation from January next year.

State Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad said the state government had recently agreed to the establishment of the new department.

“It will be a separate department (from Forest Department) that will be similar to the one in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. It will most likely be in operation in January next year and I have already prepared the structure.

“This new department will focus on wildlife protection and accelerate the gazettement of totally protected areas (TPAs) in the state,” he told reporters after launching a workshop themed ‘Managing Beyond Boundaries: Enhancing multi-stakeholder participation towards effective protected areas management in Sarawak’ here yesterday.

The three-day workshop beginning yesterday was jointly organised by the state Forest Department and WWF-Malaysia.

Sapuan said as of July this year, Sarawak had gazetted 903,769 ha of areas as TPAs that consisted of 35 national parks (694,770 ha), 14 nature reserves (2.539 ha) and six wildlife sanctuaries (206,460 ha).

“The Chief Minister’s (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem) target is to have 1.2 million ha as TPAs. Based on the mandate given by the state government, the Forest Department is trying to gazette an additional 31 areas with the area of approximately 451,819 ha as TPAs. If the gazettement can be fully implemented, Sarawak will have TPA areas of 1.3 million ha.

Sapuan said the main objective of the government’s policy in gazetting an area as national park is solely to develop the local folk to be parallel with the development in the state.