Saving rainforest with just one simple click

KOTA KINABALU: For as little as RM15, you can help protect rainforest in Sabah which is critical for the long-term survival of orang-utans, pygmy elephants, sun bears and other threatened wildlife species.

This amount, equivalent to USD5, saves 50 square metres of forest, about the size of a large garage, or you can contribute RM300 (US$100) to conserve 1000 square metres (the size of 275 king-sized beds).

This all can be done within minutes using a new online tool developed by Malua BioBank, a Sabah-based project restoring and protecting critical wildlife habitat and forest ecosystems.

This new approach opens the door for the public to take part in rainforest habitat restoration of the 34,000-hectare Malua Forest Reserve, and can be sent as a gift for birthdays and other special occasions, through personalised online certificates featuring orang-utans, sun bears, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, rhinos and hornbills.

Malua BioBank Manager, Merril Halley said that the Protect Malua site makes it easy for everyone to contribute towards rainforest conservation.

“This has to be one of most cost-effective and enduring ways for individuals to contribute to the restoration and protection of prime rainforest real estate anywhere in the world,” Merril said.

“The new online tool also lets users learn about the importance of Malua and decide how much rainforest they would like to protect — in just one click.”

Contributions will be used to restore the degraded forest which was logged up until a ban was placed on logging in 2008 by the Sabah State Government.

The funds will be used both for forest restoration activities over the next five years and 20 per cent will go into the Malua Trust, an endowment that will fund protection of the site in perpetuity once the restoration work is completed.

Restoring the forest will not only provide food for wildlife, but estimates suggest it will also help lock up a massive additional eight  million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 50 years.

The Malua BioBank project is pioneering a new approach to conservation which recognises that deforestation is driven by the profitability of alternative land uses.

It is a unique joint venture between the Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Foundation and the Eco Products Fund.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said agriculture, logging and crops like oil palm are huge and profitable sectors.

“We cannot expect to keep the rainforest standing unless there are financial drivers to do so. The Malua BioBank project works by putting a price on the region’s ecosystems,” Mannan said.

Malua’s Advisory Committee chair Cynthia Ong urged Malaysians, particularly in Sabah, to support the Malua BioBank, a ‘first of its kind initiative’ in the tropical rainforest world.

“Sabah has pioneered a ground-breaking and innovative mechanism for sustainable conservation financing and we would like to see individuals, families and corporations stepping up to support its success.

“The global conservation and financial worlds are watching us as we move forward with this initiative,” Ong, who is Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Executive Director, said.

To find out more about how you can help preserve this Malaysian rainforest, visit www.protectmalua.com.

Stay up-to-date with the project via its Facebook page, Malua BioBank and follow what Hakim the hornbill or Osmawani the orang utan are up to.

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