Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sabah's biodiversity not fully tapped

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah has yet to fully harness its rich biodiversity to become a new source of economic growth for the State but there is already a danger of locals' traditional knowledge of medicinal plants disappearing soon.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said this is due to various human related activities like deforestation, unsustainable harvesting of forest products as well as changes in government policy, especially land-use, among others.

He said indigenous knowledge, especially in relation to medicinal plants is still intact among indigenous or local communities in many parts of Sabah.

"However, this knowledge is not well documented and it stands in danger of being lost as its custodians are passing away," he said at the Ethno-Forestry Study and Workshop on Accessing and Commercialising Biodiversity, here, Wednesday.

In a speech read by Assistant Minister Datuk Ellron Angin, he said, the indigenous communities have accumulated immense knowledge of their environments, based on centuries of living close to nature.
They, he said, have an understanding of the properties of plants and animals, the functioning of ecosystems and the techniques for using and managing them that is particular and often detailed.

Hence, he sees the Study and Workshop as a step further in efforts to catapult Sabah to a leading position in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals by harnessing the State's biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.
He said the people are very fortunate that Sabah is not only rich in ethnic and cultural diversities but also in its biodiversity resources.

But in managing the resources, he said, they must exercise caution in the management of biological resources since by and large economic activities such as agriculture, logging, mining and tourism usually involve some form of land development.

"While all these developments are important to the State, we need to balance our present needs without compromising the needs of the future generation.

"Therefore, we must manage our natural resources both for economic and conservation purposes in a sustainable and integrated manner," he stressed.

Locally occurring species, Masidi said, are relied on for food, medicine, fuel, building materials and other products.

However, so far, there has been little systematic ethno-botanical survey made in this area, he said.

The Ethno-Forestry Study would explore and document indigenous knowledge and practices of the communities in the surrounding area of Imbak Canyon. He said elderly people and healers have knowledge about medicinal plants and their uses in healthcare.

With their long experiences and practices, Masidi said, they have acquired rich knowledge about the utilisation of plant resources in various ways.

And hence, the Study and Workshop is timely, he said.

"Firstly, as we all know, our elders do not live forever.

An old African proverb says, "When an elder dies, a library burns".

"This is true, but in the case of Sabah, I see that it may be more critical than a library burning, because a library can be rebuilt, and copies of books may be available elsewhere," he said.

He said some of the most important knowledge about the world is not contained in books.

It is a living knowledge, he said, where the sum of facts that are known or learned from experience or acquired through observation, are embedded in local practices and passed on from one generation to the next.

He said there is no "copy" available because there would definitely be variations from one community to the next.

And sadly, the present-day traditional healers are very old and dwindling in number by the day, he said.
This, he said, is a present danger to the traditional knowledge disappearing soon. Advancement in science and technology, he said, has also made it easier for people to acquire medicine for their sicknesses.

"Hence, most of the younger generation is not interested to carry on the tradition. The younger generation also have the tendency to migrate to cities for lucrative jobs, so wealth of knowledge in this area is declining," he said.

Secondly, he said, traditional knowledge may be lost forever amid increased development activities due to various human related activities like deforestation, unsustainable harvesting of forest products as well as changes in government policy, especially land-use.

And yet, Masidi said, Sabah has not fully harnessed its rich biodiversity to become a new source of economic growth for the State.

On the State Government's part, he said, it has enacted and enforced the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000, which has paved the way for the setting up of the Sabah Biodiversity Council and Sabah Biodiversity Centre.

The council and centre, he said, are responsible for all the coordination work of the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem activities in Sabah.

Masidi said the issue of access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing has attracted increasing attention in recent years, but information in respect to its application and the challenges faced in implementing access and benefit-sharing arrangements is still lacking.

"Much works still need to be done especially in relation to rules and regulations to promote and safeguard the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources," he said.

He said related issues include prior informed consent and intellectual property rights, among others.

As science and technology advance while natural resources dwindle, he said, there is an increased interest in appropriating indigenous knowledge for scienti?c and commercial purposes.

He said some research and pharmaceutical companies are patenting, or claiming ownership of traditional medicinal plants, even though indigenous peoples have used such plants for generations.

But in many cases, he said, these companies do not recognise indigenous peoples' traditional ownership of such knowledge and deprive indigenous peoples of their fair share in the economic, medical or social bene?

Source: Daily Express


Anonymous said...

Betul kata Datuk Masidi Manjun bahawa usaha mendokumentasikan pengetahuan ubatan traditional diperlukan untuk memastikan pengetahuan seperti ini tidak pupus.

Anonymous said...

Cara perubatan tradisi boleh dijadikan satu pengajian, sehingga kini ubatan tradisi cina masih lagi digunakan bukan sahaja di China, tapi di seluruh dunia. Jika ubat tradisi orang asli di Sabah ini dikaji, mungkin ia boleh menyumbang kepada pembangunan sektor perubatan?

harryzan said...

pembangunan itu penting, tapi tidak perlulah hingga menjejaskan sumber2 semulajadi.. sumber2 semulajadi juga boleh dimanfaatkan untuk membangunkan ekonomi Sabah..

Sabah World Heritage
Borneo Bullet

harryzan said...

saya harap usaha pihak kerajaan dan juga para NGO pro alam sekitar di negeri ini dapat memulihkan dan melindugi hutan2 di negeri ini..

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