Friday, March 15, 2013

Taking the ultimate step to conserve our natural treasures for posterity

The Borneo Pygmy Elephants are one of the many wildlife in Sabah in danger of extinction

The tropical rainforests of Borneo are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth with at least 15,000 species of plants that have been identified. Of that number, approximately 6,000 species are unique to the land.

Unfortunately, it is only in recent times that this treasure trough of biodiversity has caught the attention of scientists and environmentalists, and then governments. There are now frantic efforts to save these treasures from decades of mindless destruction and exploitation. Over the years, our forests and wildlife habitats have come under relentless onslaught to the point that some plants and animals faced extinction.

To counter this, the State Government has made a resolute stand and taken strong measures to protect Sabah's natural environment. Currently, plans are afoot to turn  Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyons (DAMAI), which together span over 133,000 hectares with over 1,800 species of flora and 800 species of fauna, into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We have a chance to safeguard forever these treasures in Sabah. We should take the chance now instead of leaving it to the people who come after us to safeguard them,” Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun reminded Sabahans at the Nomination of DAMAI as a World Heritage Site Workshop last year. 

More and more parties are following in the government’s foot steps to protect the environment. This includes the state-mandated non-governmental organization (NGO) Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT announced yesterday that it has embarked on a ten-year programme with Myne Resort to prove that people are more likely to benefit from a natural forest teeming with wildlife than one that is depleted of living creatures. In a press statement, BCT Conservation and Research Head Raymond Alfred explained that the programme is currently carried out on the 100 acres of forestland belonging to Myne Resort.

BCT will carry out three core activities focused on conservation and management of the land. These activities include the establishment of a wild orangutan lookout site and Bornean pygmy elephants’ observation platform.

“We believe that this move will encourage more people to come and visit the Lower Kinabatangan Mega Biodiversity Corridor, which is within the Myne’s Forest corridor. Additionally, they can also learn what they can do to support conservation efforts in the area,” he said.

BCT will also carry out a unique wildlife observation programme with young people in mind. This involves developing a long-term volunteer programme that encourages youth participation.

The programme was just launched in January this year and is being fine-tuned for routine operation.


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