WWF engages with Kudat islanders to sustain Tun Mustapha Park

KUCHING: World Wildlife Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) is promoting the implementation of conservation with the Kudat community in support of the government’s initiative to gazette the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP).

TMP holds a high biodiversity and rich natural resources that provides livelihood and food sources for more than 80,000 people within and beyond the Coral Triangle boundary.

The programme targets to build capacity and empower local communities and stakeholders to conduct patrol and collaborative enforcement, promote environmental stewardship, and develop conservation enterprise linked to resource management.

With funding from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), the project will focus on key pilot sites to demonstrate the benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), ultimately build support for TMP and the capacity of the communities to co-manage their resources.

“The funds from the GEF SGP will be in support of three key sites under WWF-Malaysia’s project in Tigabu Island in Kudat, Kampung Batu Siri on Balambangan Island, and Kampung Taritipan in Kota Marudu,” said WWF-Malaysia executive director cum chief executive officer Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma in a press statement issued in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

“The three demo sites and existing areas such as Maliangin Island and Berungus can potentially form a network for information sharing among community groups in TMP; which in turn can be a model for community co-management in TMP,” Sharma added.

Meanwhile, WWF-Malaysia organised an Inception Workshop to share objectives, expected outcomes, strategic approaches, and develop detailed activities and a work plan for the GEF SGP funded conservation programme recently.

This full-day workshop was held in Kudat for representatives from WWF-Malaysia, government agencies such as Sabah Parks, Department of Fisheries (DOF), and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), community based organisations and NGOs, and community members of the identified demonstration sites from Tigabu, Taritipan, and Batu Siri.

All participants of the workshop were able to provide input and comments, share experiences, and gain understanding towards their targets and responsibilities for this project. The workshop was an important step towards establishing support and engaging with key partners and stakeholders at the three key sites.

Additionally, participants of the workshop made a field site visit to Tigabu Island, located 72km off Kudat. The whole day activity involved a four-hour boat trip, site familiarisation, an opportunity to meet the head village of Tigabu Island and a visit to their sea cucumber and fish farms.

The residents on Tigabu Island farm sea cucumbers as their main source of income, and for 10 years, 70 per cent of earnings came from that and the other 30 per cent from other livelihood like fishing in the proposed TMP area.

The trip was an experience to get acquainted with the islanders and also an opportunity to gather baseline data for a final Best Management Practice (BMP) plan for a better sustainable living in alignment with the objectives of the Kudat Conservation Programme and of the proposed TMP.

“WWF-Malaysia’s projects cover mainly community based resource management as well as conservation of biodiversity. With funding from GEF SGP, WWF-Malaysia is able to work closer towards achieving our long-term goal in preserving the biodiversity of the TMP,” Sharma concluded.

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