Tuesday, December 7

Asian Wetland Symposium opens today


KOTA KINABALU: The three-day Asian Wetland Symposium (AWS) is scheduled to start here today to address the complex issue of how to achieve integration in biodiversity conservation, particularly the linking of forests on highlands and those in wetlands.

Speakers from Japan, China, the Philippines, India, Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia will present a host of working papers for discussions over six technical sessions in the next few days.

The opening is expected to be officiated by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, after speeches by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Sri Douglas Uggah Embas, and Sabah State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman, who is also the organising chairman of the symposium.

The theme for the AWS Sabah 2011 is “Integrated biodiversity conservation: Linking forests and wetlands”.

Its primary intent is to enhance synergy in the delivery of the targets and goals of the Ramsar Convention, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF).

The opening session shall be followed by a series of keynote addresses by officials of these international conventions.

There will also be a special presentation by Naotake Okubo, chairman of the Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation, Japan and a speech by Ma Guangren, director general, Wetland Conservation and Management, State Forestry Administration, China.

This symposium forms part of a series of international symposia aimed at providing a platform for active discussion on issues related to wetland conservation and the wise-use of wetland resources.

An announcement on the event says it is the premier forum for management, research, education and public awareness on wetlands.

A special plenary session for Sabah will take place on Wednesday with presentations that include eco-tourism, the success of the ‘Tagal System’ in reviving and conserving fisheries resources in the state, and the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life.

Other Sabah topics that would be tabled for deliberations at the AWS include wetlands conservation through education and restoration, the conservation of the Klias Peat Swamp Forest, marine park management, and wetland education and outreach experience of the Sabah Forestry Department.

The organizers say the AWS Sabah 2011 aims to identify practical strategies and mechanisms for enabling integrated biodiversity conservation with a focus on linking forests and wetlands.

They hope to bring together key stakeholders in Asia – forestry, wetland and biodiversity practitioners, policy and decision-makers, and the business sector – to among others, discuss issues related to biodiversity conservation in forest and wetland ecosystems.

The symposium also hopes to determine a set of practical actions for integrating biodiversity conservation in forest and wetland ecosystems in the Asia region, in line with global objectives under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention.

One of the mandates of the AWS Sabah is to review progress in terms of delivering the actions identified in the ‘Hanoi Call to Action’ and to develop a new declaration to be delivered to the Ramsar COP11, to be held in Romania next year.