Monday, 21 July 2008

Sabah moves to permanently conserve 78,000ha of forest and mangrove area

Saturday July 19, 2008 The Star Online Malaysia

Sabah moves to permanently conserve 78,000ha of forest and mangrove area

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is permanently conserving wetlands and forests three times the size of Kuala Lumpur at a wildlife-rich region in the state’s east coast.

Its Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the state Cabinet approved to permanently protect some 78,000ha of mangrove and forest reserves in the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama region, 250km from Kota Kinabalu, for the purpose.

The Cabinet gave the approval following a suggestion by the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Phase II programme to list the area as part of the global Ramsar Site Network.

(Ramsar, named after a place in Iran, is an international convention on wetlands which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was first established in 1971 and came into force in 1975.)

Mannan said the area included the Trusan Kinabatangan and Kuala Segama-Maruap Mangrove Forest Reserves and Kulamba Wildlife Forest Reserve.

He said the site would be tabled and registered at the next “Conference of the Parties” to be held in South Korea in October.

With that, Sabah would have the largest Ramsar site in Malaysia. The total size of the country's other five sites is 55,000ha. The five others are Pulau Kukup State Park, Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve and Tanjung Piai State Park, all located in Johor; Pahang's Tasek Bera and Kuching Wetlands National Park in Sarawak.

Some benefits of being listed as a Ramsar Site are funding for management activities such as forest management plan preparation, enhanced protection, bio-diversity assessments and increased access to expertise, Mannan said.

“The listing will also further raise the profile of Sabah’s conservation efforts internationally and this is bound to have a positive effect on the state’s growing nature-based tourism industry,” he added.