Monday, June 17

Imbak Canyon biodiversity must benefit people – CM

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KOTA KINABALU: Effort must be taken to ensure that exploitation and development of biodiversity resources at Imbak Canyon would directly benefit the local communities, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman.

As a government that cares about its people, he said the State Government would like to see that those living close to the protected area be roped in and be involved, especially in reserach activities.

“Our indigenous people have a wealth of knowledge on medicinal and healing properties of plants, and would serve as important information providers on the value of what our rainforest holds,” he said in his sppech at the launch of Yayasan Sabah-Petronas Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership here, yesterday.

His speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin who also officiated at the launch on behalf of the Chief Minister.

Musa said Imbak Canyon can play a globally recognized role in producing products that are crucial for medicinal and pharmaceutical advancements.

He pointed out that research done so far indicated that the area has the potential to offer a lot more than what is known now.

Realising this, he also urged scientists to conduct further investigations on commercializing biodiversity resources that exist in the reserved forest.

“This would fit in with one of the objectives of the National Biotechnology Policy, which is to extract greater value from agriculture and natural resources by leveraging on Malaysia’s unique biodiversity,” he said.

Havig gazzetted the Imbak Canyon as a Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve, he said the challenge now lies in the hand of the State Government and Yayasan Sabah in particular, to live up to the standards and responsibilities to fully protect the area.

Given its remote location, he said managing Imbak Canyon would not be easy but lessons can be drawn from the experiences in managing Maliau Basin and Danum Valley.

“It is a long term commitment and one that the State Government has no intention of backing out from.

“However, we will continue to require national and international support and relevant partnership for the conservation, and sustainable use of Imbak Canyon’s biodiversity and other environmental services.

“We are open to discussing with interested parties should they be keen on helping us protect this conservation area,” he said.

Musa also urged Petronas to continue its support towards the conservation of this area in the long term, especially in terms of funding as managing and running Imbak Canyon would be costly.

In addition, he said there was also a need for all partners to support Yayasan Sabah’s environmental education programmes to promote greater understanding of the State’s natural resources and ecosystems.