State to work with Kalimantan in protecting watershed

Officials from ITTO, together with delegates from Asean countries visit one of the mangrove conservation areas in Kuburaya, Kalimantan yesterday. Hamden is squatting on second right.

KUCHING: Sarawak will collaborate with Kalimantan in protecting its watershed and water catchment areas at the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trans-boundary Conservation Area (TBCA) from encroachment as it is the source of water for all the mega hydroelectric power (HEP) dams in the state.

Acting director of the state’s Forest Department (FDS) Hamden Mohammad said this yesterday. He added that the department had signed a Letter of Intent with its Indonesian counterpart in 2015 to work together in protecting the rich fauna and flora in the HoB in the trans-boundary area.

“We have been collaborating with our Indonesian counterpart in protecting our rich biodiversity and resources especially in the HoB TBCA which supplies water to all our mega HEP dams in Sarawak such as Bakun, Murum and the proposed Baleh HEP dam,” Hamden told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

On a related issue, Hamden who had just returned from Kalimantan to attend the four-day Asean ITTO TBCA Summit in Pontianak, West Kalimantan disclosed that Sarawak will share its experience and expertise in forest management with its neighbour.

“One of the things that we can share with them is how to engage with the local communities in preserving our forest resources such as in the case in Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) is that it has huge potential in ecotourism,” he said.

As such he pointed out that it was vital for Sarawak to collaborate with Kalimantan so that both countries could tap the ecotourism potential in the HoB TBCA.

“HoB TBCA is like a gem to be tapped. And once the collaboration is sealed, both sides will benefit, especially for the local communities living in HoB TBCA,” he stressed.

Hamden said since Sarawak has the experience of managing its resources through the financial and technical assistance from ITTO since 1992, it is now ready to share its knowledge and expertise with Kalimantan, which has just received its funding from ITTO two years ago.

“Now, the Indonesian government especially its forestry agencies want to learn from Sarawak in implementing this TBCA project. Therefore, during the workshop we have agreed to be an advisor for them on the technical part of the projects,” said Hamden.

Hamden disclosed that since 1992, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) has funded seventeen (17) projects in Sarawak with a total cost of nearly US$23 mil (RM92 mil) and two of these projects are still ongoing.

The principal donors were Japan, and Switzerland, together with USA, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Japan Lumber Importers Association (JLIA).

FDS has been the executing agency for all the projects.

The projects covered areas such as manpower development of Sarawak forestry sector; strategies for sustainable wood development; watershed management; model forest management area and biodiversity conservation and trans-boundary cooperation and LEWS is the first site for ITTO project that was approved in 1992.

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