Friday, July 18, 2008

Sabah to conserve 78,000ha of mangrove, wildlife reserves

Friday July 18, 2008 MYT 3:45:57 PM

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

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the state cabinet approved the setting aside of some 78,000ha of mangrove and wildlife forest reserves in the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama region.

The cabinet made the move when giving its nod to the suggestion by the Borneon Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Phase II programme to list the area as part of the global Ramsar Site Network.

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

Ramsar falls under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and is managed by the Ramsar secretariat, which shares its headquarters with the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Switzerland.

Mannan said the area included were Trusan Kinabatangan, 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” (CoP10) to be held in South Korea in October. With that, Sabah would have the largest Ramsar Site in Malaysia, the others being five other areas ranging from 526ha to 6,610ha totalling 55,000ha in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

“Sabah's proposed area represents the largest contiguous area of wetland forests in the country,” Mannan said, adding there were numerous benefits from listing the wetlands as a Ramsar site.

These include international prestige for achieving the gold standard in the conservation of wetlands of global importance, access to international assistance on the research of wetlands.

Other benefits include external funding for management activities such as forest management plan preparation, enhanced protection, bio-diversity assessments and increased access to expertise, he said.

“The listing will also further raise the profile of Sabah’s conservation efforts internationally and this is bound to have a multiplier effect on the state’s growing nature-based tourism industry,” Mannan said in thanking the Sabah cabinet led by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman for the listing decision.

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