Tuesday, July 30, 2013

State Government Allocated RM500,000 to clean up Gaya & Sepanggar

Kota Kinabalu: The State government has allocated about RM500,000 to clean up both Gaya island and Sepanggar island.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department, Datuk Edward Yong, said this in response to questions posed on steps taken to tackle problems related to rubbish on these two islands.

"The details still need to be discussed, but the cleaning process should be able to start next month."

Edward and his wife were accompanied by Barisan Nasional members from Tanjung Aru branch in their charity visit (Program Projek Mesra) to three islands - Sepanggar, Gaya and Lokurai, here, Monday.

Contributions in the form of food and money were handed over to about 150 villagers.

"I'm not Muslim, but I appreciate and respect other people's celebrations/festivals. This is what Barisan Nasional (BN) is all about and this is what BN represents," he said.

Apart from that, although he admitted difficulty in pinpointing the root of the problem as to where all of the rubbish actually comes from, he emphasised on education/awareness campaigns as well as cooperation with City Hall and villagers.

"Items which can be recycled such as plastic bags and plastic bottles will be collected and sold."

In relation to this, he said two companies have already been given the green light on this matter. - DE

Monday, July 29, 2013

A mangrove forest stays put in KK’s backyard

Kota Kinabalu Wetlands Center, KK City's last mangrove frontier
Kota Kinabalu Wetlands Center, KK City's last mangrove frontier

A lush mangrove forest  digs in its heels literaly in the backyard of Kota Kinabalu city, thanks to the city folks’ commitment to conservation and the wetland birds that inspired it.

Sheltered well away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the scenic sanctuary is all that remains of Kota Kinabalu’s once extensive mangrove forests that fringed the intertidal mudflats and coastlines of the city.

The Wetland Centre's 1.5 km network of boardwalk gives visitors an up-close experience with the sights and sounds of the mangrove forest.
The Wetland Centre's 1.5 km network of boardwalk gives visitors an up-close experience with the sights and sounds of the mangrove forest. 

A mere ten minutes’ drive from downtown Kota Kinabalu, the reserve offers visitors a window to the mangrove ecosystem, home to a wide variety  of birds, insects and fish species unique to the mangrove habitat.

Formerly known as the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Park, the wetland reserve covers more than 24 hectares (60 acres) of mangrove forest which was gazetted as protected reserve by the state government in  1996.

The Rufous night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) are common sightings in the mangrove park during early morning.
The Rufous night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) are common sightings in the mangrove park during early morning. 

Visitors can walk comfortably along the network of boardwalks(1.5km) traversing the mangrove forest while keeping an eye for the brilliant collared-kingfishers, white egrets combing the lagoon for a meal, the eagles and the elusive night heron on the treetops. One can also see the shy iguanas, mud crabs and occasional snakes under the stilt roots of the mangrove trees.

Over the years large tracts of mangrove forests have given way to human habitation. Much of the city of Kota Kinabalu occupies land that was once under mangrove forests.

Mangrove forests resembling the one in the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre are native to the saline coastal areas, particularly in intertidal mudflats and sandbars. The ebb and flow of the tide washes the tidal woodland twice a day and replenishes the mangrove trees with oxygenated salt water and a fresh supply of nutrients.

The unique wetland habitat attracts not just the birds but also human visitors, some from very far away. Among them were Len Matheson from New Zealand who came to catch a glimpse of the birds and wildlife that frequent the reserve.

While there are nine major mangrove species in the reserve, the most commonly found include the Api-Api Putih, Bakau Minyak and Pedada, to name three.  Api-api putih(Avicenna Alba) can be readily recognised by its leaves which appear glossy green on  top and paler on the underside, and distinctive pencil-shaped roots protruding above the ground or water which enable the plant to breathe. Bakau Minyak (Rhizophorbia apiculata) has arching, stilt root system, and spear-shaped fruits, while the Pedada (Sonneratia alba) has typically broad, oval shaped leaves as well as cone-shaped roots that stick out straight out of the water.

The extensive maze of roots provide the ideal shelter from predators for commercially important juvenile marine species including prawns, mangrove jacks, barramundis and mud-crabs.
The extensive maze of roots provide the ideal shelter from predators for commercially important juvenile marine species including prawns, mangrove jacks, barramundis and mud-crabs. 

The mangrove forest dominates the wetland ecosystem owing to its unique ability to withstand the rigors of highly saline and brackish inter-tidal water along estuaries, coastlines including saltwater and freshwater marshes. The trees provide the building blocks of a complex, interwoven food chain by producing large amounts of leaf litter, fruits and other organic materials. They also supply nutrients for animals at the lower end of the food chain such as worms, snails, mussels, oysters and mollusks. In turn, these detritus eaters become a source of protein for larger predators including barramundi, mangrove jacks, herons and mud crabs and, high up on the food chain, other animals, including humans.

Patiently waiting, A Striated Heron(Butorides striata) stalks its prey in the mangrove reserve.
Patiently waiting, A Striated Heron(Butorides striata) stalks its prey in the mangrove reserve. 

"The best time to visit the mangrove forest is  early morning when resident birds and other wildlife in the park go out looking for food," said KKWC Conservation Science Officer Siti Joanni Matlan.

The lush mangroves of the KKWC play an important role in minimising pollution by absorbing nutrients. 

They also  offer protection against storms, including tsunami, as well as common wave actions that cause coastal erosion. Its tangled labyrinth of roots forms an ideal refuge and nursery ground that harbours many species of juvenile ocean fish, including lobsters, crabs and prawns.

High in the mangrove canopy, a cacophony of cicadas make their presence felt, adding to the rich luxuriant splendor of the tropical mangrove forest.

An assembly of mangrove trees securely anchored in their extensive stilt roots
An assembly of mangrove trees securely anchored in their extensive stilt roots

For avid nature lover, Fung Sai Hou, the mangrove park provides a rare attraction in the urban heart of Kota Kinabalu.

"The mangrove center is an idyllic retreat not far from the city center, it’s a great place for bird-watchers and anyone who enjoys connecting with nature," he said. -Insight Sabah

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Korean scientists keen to collaborate with Sabah

Pic: badirbio.com

A group of scientists from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) paid a courtesy call to Institute for Development Studies, Sabah, (IDS) yesterday.

IDS Executive Director cum CEO Datuk Mohd Hasnol Mohd Ayub met the visitors led by KRIBB president Dr Oh Tae Kwang. Also present was a member of IDS Board of Directors, Datuk Nancy Ho. KRIBB is a Korean government research institute dedicated to biotechnology research.

Their research on biotechnology covers broad areas from basic studies to fundamental understanding of life phenomena. Their research includes new drug discovery, novel biomaterials, integrated biotechnology and bio-information.

In his briefing to IDS, Dr Oh stated that since its existence KRIBB has carried out a number of research and development (R&D) activities and related projects in bio-science and biotecnology. Their R&D was done in joint effort with other research institutes, academic institutions and businesses at home as well as abroad.

Dr Oh expressed his pleasure for being able to extend this collaboration to IDS.

Hasnol welcomed the move by KRIBB. He said both IDS and KRIBB should explore further on detailing out the collaboration to benefit both parties, in particular the governments of Sabah and Korea.

He suggested for KRIBB to look into the possibilities of exploring research in biotechnology, particularly related to the greening of the environment and producing downstream products from Sabah’s abundant natural resources. As a commitmment to the collaboration, KRIBB has extended an invitation to IDS board members to visit their research centre in Dae Jon City, Seoul Korea in September this year.

This is in conjunction with the Bio Korea 2013 International Convention which will be held from September 11 to 13 in Korea.

Source: Borneo Post

Saturday, July 27, 2013

78 litter free premises in KK now

Pic: chrisingram.cc

Ararat Sports and Souvenirs Sdn Bhd’s four outlets in the state capital have received the ‘Litter Free Premises’ recognition from City Hall.

The company is also now taking part in City Hall’s campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags in the state capital.

“With Ararat’s participation in City Hall’s campaigns, there are now 78 ‘Litter Free Premises’ in Kota Kinabalu.

“The number of premises which are promoting the ‘No Plastic bag on Saturday, Sunday and Monday’ campaign have now increased to 295 with the inclusion of Ararat’s four outlets,” Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said before presenting Ararat Sports and Souvenirs group operations manager Benny Lim with the ‘Litter Free Premises’ certificate yesterday.

“As I have always stressed, a litter free premises stresses on the concept of no indiscriminate littering, and rubbish must only be disposed in the bins provided. This means that all Ararat Sports staff do not litter indiscriminately and they can also promote the campaign to the public,” he said.

According to Abidin, City Hall’s cleanliness campaign was an ongoing one and efforts were being carried out to expand its other campaigns such as the one against litterbugs.

“I wish to record my gratitude to residents in the state capital for giving City Hall their full cooperation all this while as the responsibility of keeping the state capital clean belongs to all,” he added.

Abidin also took to task owners of buildings, especially old ones at Bandaran Berjaya, Segama Complex and Sinsuran Complex for not maintaining their property.

“I discovered many of the water and sewage pipes in these buildings leaking and in disrepair resulting in the back lanes of shops there becoming very dirty and smelly. The discharge from the damaged pipes not only attracts vermin and pests such as rats and flies but also makes the area unattractive.

“As we are all aware, the tourism industry is one of the state’s main income generators. Therefore shop and building owners must play their part in helping the state government to ensure that tourists continue to visit Sabah,” he stressed.

In view of this, Abidin urged all building owners in the state capital to cooperate with City Hall and make the effort to repair as well as beautify their premises so that the area becomes pleasing to the eye.

He also advised eatery and restaurant owners to abide by the rules and regulations such as not using the walkways behind their shops to prepare food or wash their dishes.

They must also ensure that the grease traps in their premises are properly maintained and that their employees do not throw food wastes into the drains.
“City Hall is constantly monitoring the situation and will not refrain from taking action against anyone found committing an offence,” he warned.

Source: Borneo Post

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cabinet to discuss Kundasang report today – Masidi

The report on the slope stability in Kundasang by the Department of Mineral and Geoscience will be tabled at the state cabinet meeting today, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.

Masidi stressed that the report was requested by his ministry following a landslide that caused extensive damage to a resort in Kundasang two years ago.

“Just to clarify any confusion on the study/report prepared by the Mineral and Geoscience Department that has been submitted to our ministry and the Local Government and Housing Ministry.

“It was a report requested by my ministry in the aftermath of the collapse of Zen Garden Resort,” Masidi said during the Tourism, Culture and Environment Mnistry’s breaking of fast event at a hotel here on Monday night.

According to Masidi, among the terms of reference of the study was to determine the stability of the soil within and around the various hotels and resorts, many of which were operating without an Occupational Certificate (OC).

The report, Masidi said, was intended to assist resorts and hotels to take mitigating measures to ensure maximum safety in view of the perennial movement of the ground/land within Kundasang/Mount Kinabalu (a natural occurrence).

The implementation of the various recommendations is coordinated by a special task force formed by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry together with the Local Government and Housing ministry. It is chaired by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s permanent secretary, Masidi said.

“The tabling of the report to the Cabinet on Wednesday is merely to brief the Cabinet on the progress of the task force as well as the report itself. In fact, some hotels and resorts have already taken proactive measures of implementing these recommendations which is a condition for their trading/operating licence renewal by the Ranau District Council,” he added.

Masidi said this when asked to respond to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup’s statement pertaining to the study, which the latter said had been published and forwarded to the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Ranau District Council and District Office.

Masidi pointed out that there are factors which are beyond human control and we are aware of the fact that Kundasang and the surrounding areas have always experienced landslides, irrespective of whether it is rainy season or not.

“This is a natural occurrence due to the perennial earth movement there. However, this is not the time to blame others or to point fingers. Instead, there is a need to better understand the real situation and get the experts to explain why it is happening,” he said.

During the event, Masidi presented a RM5,000 donation from his ministry to the 120 Pusat Latihan Dalam Komuniti Ranau trainees.

Source: Borneo Post

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Masidi wants trees planted on hillslopes in kundasang

KOTA KINABALU: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun today emphasised the importance of planting trees on hillslopes in an effort to reduce the occurrence of natural disasters especially landslides.

He said this approach should be implemented to create a balance between economic development through agricultural activities and the natural ecosystem in high altitude areas especially in Kundasang which is located at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, which is among the highest mountains in Southeast Asia.

He said the planting of trees in vegetable and fruit farms on the hillslopes could strengthen the soil condition and structure, thus speeding up the process of water absorption and reducing the risk of erosion.

“That is why the planting of trees in hillslope areas in Kundasang is most encouraged,” he told reporters when met at the breaking of the fast with the staff of Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK), here last night.
 In the incident at about 10.45am, strawberry vendor Dohumie Kinte, in her 70′s, was believed to be picking strawberry alone in her farm when the incident struck.

Her body was found at 12.15pm yesterday under the debris of the landslide at her farm.

Masidi said the unexpected incident should give a lesson on the importance of conserving the environment in preventing destruction to property and the loss of life in future.

At the function, the minister gave out DBKK contributions to 10 mosques around the state capital and raya contributions to 20 personnel of DBKK to celebrate the Hari Raya.

Source: Borneo Insider

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

15 times the size of Penang Island That’s how big Sabah’s single largest conservation area is

 KOTA KINABALU: Sabah now has one of the single largest conservation areas in the country. 

It is nearly 15 times the size of Penang Island.

The area of more than 400,000ha encompasses the three crown jewels of Sabah’s environmental conservation efforts – Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon.

Over the past several years, the Sabah Government has been linking tracts of the forests in the three conservation areas by re-classifying those designated for logging and other commercial activities into protected zones.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said that the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when the State Assembly passed the amendments to the Forestry Enactment 1984 on Thursday under which 23,135ha of forests were re-classified as protected areas.

“We now have this huge conservation area that is totally protected and cannot be taken away,” he said yesterday.

He said that work was under way to restore the degraded areas of the newly protected areas. 

He said that these were once commercial forest reserves.

Management plans for places like Gunung Rara, Ulu Segama and the Malua Forest Reserve were now being drawn up, Mannan added.

He said that the restoration work involved re-planting native tree species in the affected areas.

The forest link between Danum Valley, Imbak Canyon and Maliau Basin was also crucial as some of these areas were habitats for wildlife such as the orang utan, he added.

He said that portions of the protected areas such the Malua Forest Reserve also served as gene banks for the native plant species.

Source: The Star

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Borneo Elephant Sanctuary to be Opened Soon

 "Injured elephants will be treated at this centre before being released into forests and wildlife reserves. Other wildlife will be accepted and treated at this sanctuary, such as sun bears, proboscis monkeys, orangutan, clouded leopards and banteng." - New Straits Times

An elephant sanctuary, namely Borneo Elephant Sanctuary has been built in Kinabatangan. This project was initiated by the Sabah Wildlife Department and non-governmental organization Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) as part of the Elephant Conservation Action Plan.

The elephant sanctuary is divided into two phases that will see a bigger area turned into a full-fledged sanctuary measuring more than 1,200ha. The first phase of the elephant sanctuary will be opened in September and it is completed with a handling paddock, staff quarters and a store built at a cost of RM1.8 million. The second phase will follow to develop a 25ha plot in the sanctuary with the cost RM5.2 million. The overall cost for the elephant sanctuary will cost up to RM30 million once fully established.

According to BCT conservation and research head, Raymond Alfred said the first phase of the project was financially aided by BCT Japan, Asahiyama Zoo, Saraya, Hunting World, Tokio Marine, NTT Data Kirin, Taiseh and Yusen Logistics. Meanwhile, second phase is aided by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Borneo Elephant Sanctuary will serve as a centre to rescue and treat injured or displaced elephants, along with conducting awareness programmes and activities. A forested area has also been identified for rehabilitated elephants to be released into. Between 12 and 16 elephants could be catered in the first two phases of the programme said Sabah Wildlife Department director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.

The effort to build a sanctuary for the elephants shows that Sabah state government and NGO are cooperating well to protect the endangered animals. Let us hope more initiatives to protect Sabah's nature and wildlife turn into reality.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cleanliness Essay Competition

Good news to everyone!

There will be an open essay competition with the topic on effective ways to maintain cleanliness. Essay can be written in three languages; English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese with the maximum length of 3000 words. The judging will be based on content (80%) and language structure/style of writing (20%). Cash prizes of RM2,000, RM1,000 and RM500 plus certificates for the first three winners in each category are ready to be grabbed! 

The competition begins from August 1st until 15th. All entries can be submitted to C.K. Chin at 602, Jalan Sang Kancil 1, 88300, Kota Kinabalu. Media practitioners and environmental activists are among the panel of judges. The prizes will be given away on August 30. 

Those who are interested in joining this competition should not  miss the opportunity! This competition will not only creates awareness to the public but indirectly bringing them to contribute along the ideas on ways to curb cleanliness problems.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Change Attitude for Cleaner Beaches - Masidi

  "Some Sabahans are in desperate need of an attitude change when it comes to littering, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun." - Daily Express

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has urged the society to change their attitudes and start to pay serious attention over the environmental cleanliness.

Complaints on cleanliness along Sabah's shores are nothing new and the City Hall has taken the step to clean the shores on daily basis. However, the effort is not enough to overcome the issue as long as the people have no conciousness towards the cleanliness of ocean and rivers. The situation in Sembulan, for instance is quite worrying and City Hall's is going to redevelop the area with the hope to solve the cleanliness issue there.

It is sad to see that littering problem is still haunting the society eventhough there were so many measures have been taken to educate the people on environmental cleanliness.  We should realize that it is our responsibility to ensure the environment is clean and protected. Doing our part to keep litter to a minimum is easy, but it takes vigilance yet it is never to late for us to make a change for a better environment through our mindset, habit and attitude.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Danes' conservation help lauded

KOTA KINABALU: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has applauded the continuous collaboration between Yayasan Sabah and Danish-based NEPCon for the management of the Maliau Basin Conservation Area (MBCA) for the next 10 years. 

"Such collaborations between two countries are most welcome, especially between developed countries and developing countries, like Malaysia. 

"It is in the world's interests that we cooperate in preserving rainforests and our natural environment." 

Masidi was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Yayasan Sabah and NEPCon, which is a non-profit organisation in Denmark, on the revision of the MBCA Management Plan 2014 to 2023, here. 

He said NEPCon, on behalf of the Danish government, had undertaken the responsibility of collaborating with the state in the preparation of the management plan 10 years ago. 

"This time, they took their own initiative, in support of Yayasan Sabah, to raise funding to review the MBCA management plan, which expired last year. 

"I encourage more people from Scandinavian countries to collaborate with the government in the environmental fields of strategic projects that not only influence the state, but the global community, too." 

NEPCon was approached for assistance when the MBCA Strategic Management Plan 2003 expired last year. 

The latter then secured funding of about RM1.17 million from Aage V. Jansen Foundation in Denmark for the purpose. 

Masidi also thanked Ikea, a Swedish organisation involved in environmental projects, for being one of Yayasan Sabah's biggest sponsors for its conservation programmes in the MBCA.

The programmes, which include forest restoration and rehabilitation, were initiated through Ikea in 1998.

"Despite having no stores in the state, Ikea has been in the state for the last 10 years through efforts to conserve pristine areas, as well as forest rehabilitation.

"Malaysia, in general, and Sabah, in particular, is appreciative of the crucial contributions that the Scandinavian countries -- Denmark and Sweden -- have given to the state." Bernama

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sabah Strives Balancing Biodiversity Conservation and Protecting People’s Interest

"A practical approach to strike a balance between biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s interest is being worked out under the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park.

State Special Task Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang said traditional fishermen and farmers would not be affected by the marine park that covers some 50 islands in the northern districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas." - The Star

Accusation by the opposition that the government would take the people's lands once the marine park was gazetted has been rebutted by the State Special Task Minister, Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

Teo, who is the Tanjung Kapor assemblyman from Kudat told that Sabah Parks, and research groups are still gathering data and in dialogue with stakeholders and the local communities. The state government is working hard to find a win-win situation to ensure traditional fishermen could continue their livelihood and at the same time be able to protect the eco-system. 

Tun Mustapha Marine Park is a proposed park that comes under Coral Triangle Initiative where it aimed at strict protection for certain areas, tourism, traditional fishing and commercial fishing at the 1.02 million hectare park.

Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) is a multilateral partnership of six countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste that was signed in Manado, Indonesia in 2009. They are committed to cooperate on five goals involving seascapes, ecosystem approach to fisheries management, marine protected areas, adaptation to climate change, and threatened species.

CTI is led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation  and according to Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, CTI represented the highest diversity of marine life and the total monetary value in terms of fisheries, tourism and related activities may come up to US$2.3 billion yearly. 

In order to sustain the development of marine resources within the CTI, an accredited body to manage and develop marine resources or Global Biodiversity Hub (GBH) has been established in Sabah and would be monitored by a management board from key stakeholder groups.

GBH is a project under Economic Transformation Programme Chapter 10, with the roles  to reach the fishermen community as well as improve the livelihoods of farmers. The hub is  led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the hub is expected to generate a gross national income of RM1.5 billion with 2,900 new jobs created.
There were so much efforts have been done over the years in developing related programmes in Tun Mustapha Marine Park. Even though there were some "hiccups", efforts need to be continued especially in terms of research, governance, enforcement, awareness and capacity building, as well as strengthening private-public partnerships. 

People should not be misled by false accusations as the state government is indeed concerned over the people and the eco-system. A win-win situation was the always the preference from the beginning.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Collaboration on Revising Maliau Basin Conservation Area Management Plan

Pic: Insight Sabah
"Recognizing the uniqueness of the area, in 1981 Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated Maliau Basin as a Conservation Area, for the purposes of research, education and training, along with Danum Valley Conservation Area further to the east." - Yayasan Sabah

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the “Revision of Maliau Basin Conservation Area Management Plan” was signed between Yayasan Sabah and Nature, Ecology & People Consult (NEPCon) of Denmark, recently.

The MoU aims to examine and update the Maliau Basin Conservation Area Strategic Management Plan for year 2014 - 2023.

The MoU shows the interest and dedication in ensuring the protection and conservation of Sabah’s natural heritage.

NEPCon was one of the consulting firms appointed under the four-year collaborative project (1999-2002) between Yayasan Sabah and DANCED (Danish Cooperation for Environment & Development)/DANIDA (Danish International Development Assistance) to provide technical assistance.

NEPCon is in the effort to promote sustainable forest and nature management and use by working towards to encourage the use of natural resources worldwide in sustainable ways.

Through this joint-project, they have formulated the first Strategic Management Plan for Maliau Basin Conservation Area 2003-2012.

The completion of the Maliau Basin Studies Centre and related infrastructures and facilities is one of the success that has been achieved besides seeing a lot of developments and changes in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area.

NEPCon has also been successful in securing funding from Aage V Foundation, Denmark amounting to EURO294,875 (RM1.2 million)

With the success of the first Strategic Management Plan for Maliau Basin, NEPCon has been invited once again to examine and update the Management Plan for year 2014-2023.

In the signing ceremony, Yayasan Sabah was represented by Datuk Peter Pang En Yin while NEPCon was represented by its director Peter Feilberg, and witnessed by Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Monday, July 8, 2013

State Government Ensures Forest Sustainability

"Sabah will continue to strive to excel in the governance of best practices in forest management and conservation." - New Straits Times

Forest conservation and environmental protection are important. This is to minimize the damaging effects of deforestation activities. Sustainable forest management helps ensure adequate natural forests to maintain the quality and stability of the environment. Thus all forms of forest exploration and development of other infrastructure, both in the ground state, should be fully monitored and controlled in accordance with a predetermined management plan to ensure the sustainability of natural resources while preserving environmental quality and ecological stability. 

The government should prioritize forest conservation because people have the right to enjoy a clean environment besides protecting the habitat of flora and fauna. In this regard, the government should use existing authority to gazette the forest reserve. Through this, forest security and sustainability will be assured. Among the other measures that can help forest conservation is to create a national park, controlling illegal logging, replanting trees in forests that have been logged, and environmental education.

Concern over the matter, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman has led Sabah a step further when it emerged as the first state in Asian region to establish Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank or known as Malua Biobank. This initiative is to protect the interests of nature in the long run in the Malua Forest Reserve. The state government is confident that efforts to protect forests could be offset by the establishment of the bank with the rapid development in the state.
Apart from that, Sabah has one of the largest conservation areas in the country. This area includes the Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon with an area of ​​more than 400,000 hectares, almost 15 times the size of Penang.

Hopefully, the approach taken to protect forests in Sabah will be effective in ensuring that there is a rainforest in the state to be inherited by future generations. The law needs to be enforced. The private sector and the public should also play a role in alleviating the burden of the government and not expect the government alone to address the environmental issues that arise because it is a responsibility of co.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

MoU on joint turtle conservation signed

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd for turtle conservation on Libaran Island.
Both parties are collaborating on establishing a Turtle Conservation Programme on the island which includes, creating awareness programme for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects to better understand the life cycle of sea turtles of Libaran island area and to create research programmes on the animal for local and international students.

Through the MoU, SWD will offer expertise, advice, training and monitoring assistance at the turtle hatchery and in situ operations to Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd in areas related to the collaboration.

The Department will also train Trekkers Lodge staff members Sdn Bhd to become honorary wildlife wardens who can then exercise enforcement with regards to the protection of the species.

The Department and the company were represented by SWD Director, Dr Laurentius Ambu and Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Alexander Yee, at Rumah Terbalik respectively which is also operated by the latter, in Tamparuli recently.

Dr Ambu in his speech commented that there is a dire need to carry out turtle conservation in the state and he welcomed the initiative taken by Yee, describing it as another good example of the state collaborating with dynamic private enterprises and local community to protect the natural resources and environment.

“The department is always ready and supports the efforts of cooperation in managing and carrying out wildlife conservation activities in Sabah. I am confident that this collaboration with a private enterprise and the local community in carrying out conservation works will lead to a success,” added Dr Ambu.

Libaran Island lies at the Northeast coast of Sabah, about 40 minutes boat ride from Sandakan and five minutes away from Selingan Island and one of the main islands of Turtle Islands Park which support about 450 inhabitants whose main livelihood being fishing.

Besides safeguarding the turtles and their eggs, the collaboration will also allow the inhabitants to benefit from the conservation-based activities.

Eleven staff members of the Trekkers Lodge, Libaran Division, who were the inhabitants of the island including Yee and Libaran Village Chief, Sarief Nasidip Uyung, were inducted to be Honorary Wildlife Warden during the MoU signing ceremony, after undergoing a one-week training course in February 2012, conducted by the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Babagon River a potential tourist attraction - Masidi

Pic: Kepkas
Babagon River, which flows through Kampung Babagon here, can be a tourism attraction for the district, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
Masidi, when met at a gathering with members of the social media at Kampung Babagon yesterday, pointed out that Babagon River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the state.

“It has its own special attraction and this location can be promoted to tourists from all over the world,” he said.

According to Masidi, he was made to understand that Kampung Babagon, which practises the “tagal” system, is already a popular destination among foreign tourists but is relatively unknown among domestic visitors.

The tagal system is a community-based fisheries resource management system practised by  many riparian communities in Sabah. It is a stakeholder-driven system of rehabilitation, protection and conservation of the river environments and the fisheries resources for its sustainable development.

At the moment, the number of tagal areas established in Sabah has multiplied to more than 200 involving 107 rivers in 11 districts.

Protection of the tagal system rivers’ environment and its enforcement are in the hands of the elected Tagal Committees. At present, the enforcement of the prohibitions is through the imposition of native customary laws that are backed by the Native Court.

Masidi also expressed hope that domestic tourists will choose Kampung Babagon as a location for recreational activities in the future.

He added that netizens on social media websites, such as Twitter, have a very wide influence in the promotion of tourism products.

The recreational area in Kampung Babagon is located just by the river side and is equipped with a mini hall, toilets and food stalls.
Anglers can also try their hand at fishing for “pelian”, but only on a catch and release basis for a fee.

Source: Borneo Post

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stop Torturing and Killing Stray Animals

More firm action needs to be taken against brutalizing of strays here as complaints of cruelty to animals seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. 

Animal activist Sam Lau said despite the provisions in Section 428 of the Penal Code which stipulate that killing a dog may result in a jail term of not more than two years or fine, or both, while a heavy fine may be imposed for cruelty to a dog or other animals, "these provisions seem to hold little sway with authorities slow to act or choosing not to act at all." - Daily Express

Nowadays, the issue of animal abuse are becoming more common. Every day, there will be issues involving either animal torture reported in the newspapers or ones that happens in front of your own eyes.

Animals such as cats and dogs often become victim to the cruel perpetrators who tortures and kill without mercy. These are inhumane acts! Is the human compassion recedes that they willing to commit such acts?

Such cases often do not get proper defense because it is considered common practice for some people.

Patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the association hoped that there will be a new law relating to the welfare of animals in order to end inhumane acts against animals. This too will indirectly help improve Malaysia's position in the world in terms of animal care.

Previously, there was heard that a draft on animal welfare law that provides for stiffer penalties for animal abusers is expected to be tabled in Parliament earlier this year. The draft provides for a fine of between RM20, 000 to RM100, 000 or imprisonment of up to three years or both.

Hopefully there will be a best solution can be achieved to stop animal abuse in this country. One of the better ways to address the issue of cruelty to animals is to foster a love for all animals besides imposing heavy law on animal abusers.

Anyone who is interested in learning about ways to help abandoned animals, please visit the SPCA website Kota Kinabalu at http://www.spcakk.org/

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

UMS and World Ocean Day

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) celebrates the World Ocean Day by promoting awareness of the ocean through its launching of ‘Ocean Outreach Corner’ and the information bulletin ‘Ocean: Facts & Views’.

According to the vice chancellor Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah, with ocean governance taking a centre stage of the world attention today, knowledge management should be the focus to support the quest for innovation in dealing with issues related to ocean ecosystem in a changing climate.

He said the ‘Ocean Outreach Corner’ will provide very useful information to the visitor as they will not only see and admire the beauty of the underwater life but also gain knowledge of the marine world.

Dr Harun also praised the efforts of UMS Borneo Marine Research Institute in producing the information bulletin ‘Ocean: Facts & Views’ for public viewing.

“I have been made to understand this bulletin contains facts about oceans and thought-provoking views of our scientists which are original and intended to provoke serious thinking, and with powerful carry home message,” said Dr Harun in his speech when launching the UMS World Ocean Day 2013 at UMS Marine Aquarium & Museum here yesterday.

The speech was read by the director of UMS Research Centre & Innovation Professor Dr Felix Tongkul.

He added that if scientists, the corporate sector and the journalists can champion the cause of oceans and their importance in combating the effect of climate change, the collective efforts will succeed in bringing the society on board.

“By studying the ocean and exploring our links with this massive ecosystem, we can learn our close connection and gain better understanding of how our activities can have a positive or negative impact on the ocean.

“The ocean is the largest carbon sink on Earth but little attention has been paid to the coastal and marine ecosystems in addressing the climate mitigation towards this end,” he said.

Additionally, Harun said that the fact that so much of knowledge about the ocean that we claim to know looks so little when it comes to managing it, should make us think of the vastness and complexity of the oceans.

“We are all connected to the oceans no matter where we live and where we breathe. We need to appreciate what ocean means to all of us and what we need to do to protect it.

“Caring for the sea that gives us so much is an obligation for the whole world. The ocean takes 71 per cent of the earth surface and it also makes our living possible on this planet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the deputy director & coordinator of Eco-Campus Programme, Associate Professor Dr Rossita Shapawi said that UMS will hold several activities in conjunction of the World Ocean Day which include the signing of a pledge and the ‘Ocean We Want’ essay contest result announcement besides the launching of UMS information bulletin ‘Ocean: Facts & Views’ and the opening of the ‘Ocean Outreach Corner’.

She said through the interactive events and strong messages, UMS will try its level best to generate public awareness of the oceans and need to conserve this vital ecosystem, especially the marine biodiversity.

“Marine biodiversity is an asset of vital importance to economic activities such as seafood security and marine ecotourism.

“Our decision to open the informative ‘Ocean Outreach Corner’ is essentially to disseminate information on the plight of the oceans and need for intensive research, training and conservation and sustainable development activities,” said Dr Rossita.

Besides information panels, the ‘Ocean Outreach Corner’ will provide interactive learning materials and sculptures and cut-outs depicting the biodiversity of the coral reef ecosystems of Sabah were set up for the visitors.

She added that the information bulletin contains scientific facts about oceans and UMS views in ocean-related issues so pertinent that these need to be taken seriously in this 21st century.

“The importance of oceans cannot be overstated. Their complexity surpasses the complexity of all other ecosystem. It is the complexity which is an element of stability and a bulwark against the impacts as powerful as climate change,” she said.

Also present was director of Borneo Marine Research Institute Professor Dr Saleem Mustafa.

Source: New Sabah Times

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BSBCC aims to raise RM500,000 for the construction of bear house

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is aiming to raise RM500,000 to partially fund the construction of a second bear house before the Centre is opened to the public early next year.

Part of the money raised will also go to creating a one hectare enclosure for the new bear house, and to meet this year’s operational costs to sustain the Centre that started in 2008 with seven rescued Sun Bears and which now provides refuge to 28 bears.

A fundraising dinner will be held on July 20 at the Hakka Association Hall here almost five years after a similar event in Kota Kinabalu in which RM1.3 million was generated for the Centre including the construction of the first bear house.

BSBCC chief executive officer and founder, Wong Siew Te, said this year’s operational and construction costs run into RM2 million and that despite commitment of generous donors, the Centre needs to meet shortfall in expenses.

“We appeal to Malaysians, especially the Sandakan business community to support this fundraiser. We believe that by doing your bit, and attending the event, you will be able to better understand the significance of Sun Bears and the types of threats that this species faces.

“This Centre is the first and the only facility of its kind in the world. We are the only facility that does rescue, education, research and rehabilitation, and we should be proud that the Centre is located in Malaysia, and specifically in Sandakan,” Wong said in a statement to announce the fundraising dinner.

The Centre, located next to the world-famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, is also close to the increasingly popular Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Habitat loss, poaching for parts used in traditional medicine and the pet trade are among key threats that have led to a decline by at least 30 per cent of the Sun Bear population in the last three decades. Sun Bears are the smallest of the world’s eight bear species.

Found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, the exact number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing to reduce pressure on a species that is classified as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.

Sun Bears are also classified as a Totally Protected Species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, providing it the same status as Orang Utans and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Prior to the setting up of the Centre, Wong said Sun Bears were kept illegally as pets while confiscated bears were housed at a government facility.

He said the Centre provides care and a chance for Sun Bears to learn what it is like to live in the forest by accessing an attached natural forest within an enclosed area.

Wong said an observation platform and boardwalk were completed last year, and the Centre was poised to become an important education and awareness facility, and could additionally serve as an eco-tourism destination.

“However, we need a second bear house and enclosure to accommodate all the bears before we can officially open the Centre, and we also need to complete the visitor centre and educational exhibits,” he said.

He said the Sime Darby Foundation, the Sabah State Government including the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, and several foreign organisations and zoos in the United States were among generous agencies that had contributed towards the Centre’s development.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will see Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears, as well as an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan.

Performers lined up for the evening include Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chaw @ Cao Ge, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends, while the masters of ceremony are Lina Teoh and Vincent Huang.

A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The event is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry and the main sponsor is Sabah Hotel, which is creating a unique banquet menu. Other sponsors include CPL Printing, Jonathan T Gallery, IM Magazine and Merdeka Daily News.

The BSBCC was set up through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Source: Sun Bears

Monday, July 1, 2013

Better inventory soon on Gaya's rich biodiversity

A better species inventory on Gaya Island's rich biodiversity will be available soon, thanks to a six-day scientific expedition organised by the state park custodian, Sabah Parks. 

It is the first such large-scale research effort launched within the proximity of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, involving eight government and private agencies, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and 82 foreign researchers. 

A total of 58 research topics have been proposed covering fauna, flora, marine, community and eco-tourism potentials which is hoped would help the State update its biodiversity data. 

Sabah Parks Director Dr Paul Basintal said Gaya Island, being the largest of the five Islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, is the only place which has dipterocarp trees in its jungle and virgin mangrove all in one place. 

"Two species such as the 'Hopea philippinensis' and 'Quassia Borneensis' which can't be found anywhere else but in Gaya, he said during the launching of the Gaya Island Scientific Expedition.
Dr Basintal said such effort would help determine whether the island's biodiversity was degrading or improved. 

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks Chairman Datuk Seri Dr Tengku Zainal Adlin said due to the island's rich biodiversity only 10 per cent of island's size are allowed for development. 

"The mangrove on the island plays an important role in preventing beach erosion and as ground for marine life to breed. 

Meanwhile, many of the native plants on the other islands have been replaced by the secondary jungle," he said. 

He said the findings of the scientific expedition will be the basic tools for data compiling and basic development of scientific data for the park. 

Adlin said the work will be the reference for Sabah Parks to better manage on the islands conservation effort. 

The findings of the scientific expedition will be available within six months from the date of launch. 

Source: Daily Express