KOTA KINABALU: Yayasan Sabah’s head of conservation and environment division, Dr Waidi Sinun, said Sabah has a strong chance of getting all its three conservation areas to attain recognition as World Heritage Sites.
The three areas concerned are the Danum Valley, the Maliau Basin and the Imbak Canyon conservation areas.
Dr Waidi who disclosed this during the one-day World Heritage Site nomination workshop held at a leading hotel here yesterday said, the three areas are special in that they are the only locations where all the animals that used to live in the State exist at the same time.
He cited that the animals found in the three areas include the pygmy elephants, the orang-utans, Sumatran rhinocerous, proboscis monkeys, all the various cats and hornbills in Sabah.
Dr Waidi who has been associated with the conservation areas for more than 20 years said despite having visited several protected areas in Malaysia and other countries, the experience was not similar to the situation at Danum Valley.
“You can be sitting at the veranda of the rest house at Danum and see a deer walking past, or hornbills flying over.
“And at Imbak and Maliau, you can see all the eight species of hornbills and you cannot experience this in other parts of the country. You can hardly see any bird,?he said.
The areas’ richness and diversity in wildlife is the main reason why the areas attract a lot of visitors, he said.
He added, the three areas are among the most pristine areas in Sabah and grades them as better than Taman Negara Mulu and most of the protected areas in Peninsular Malaysia in terms of wildlife and wilderness.
Dr Waidi said that while he was not familiar with the World Heritage nomination, he opined that comparing them to other areas he has visited, the State government’s keeness of getting the three conservation areas recognised as World Heritage sites should be given a strong chance since there is no other area similar to them in the world or even within Borneo.
The Imbak Canyon is a 25 km long self-contained valley in central Sabah, surrounded on three sides by sandstone cliffs reaching a height of over 3,700 feet and it is the last remaining part of Sabah which has remained pristine and relatively unexplored.
This remaining contiguous area of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest covers an area of about 30,000 hectares including the two Virgin Jungle Reserves located on the ridges surrounding it, making Imbak Canyon a priceless heritage.
The Maliau Basin, on the other hand, was originally part of a timber concession held by Yayasan Sabah and was designated a conservation area, for the purpose of research, education and training, along with the Danum Valley conservation area in 1981.
Dr Waidi also commented that the workshop was held with a view to preparing a paper on the criteria which will be forwarded to the State government for adoption.
He added that the aim of the workshop was also to come up with a document acceptable to UNESCO and supported by members of the public.
The three conservation areas are managed by the Yayasan Sabah group and owned by the State Government.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of Sabah Parks Dr Jimili Nais said, they are in the midst of preparing the tentative list for the three sites and upon finalisation, will be submitted to the National Heritage Department.
The nomination for the three sites will only be done next year, he said.
He also informed that the process of getting the three sites nominated was difficult and that they need to prove that the sites have utstanding Universal Value?and are legally protected, among others.
Among the World Heritage sites in the world are the Forbidden City, Angkot Wat, The Giant Buddha and the Blue Mountain in Australia.
In Malaysia, sites that have been given World Heritage site status are Georgetown in Pulau Pinang, Mulu in Sarawak and Mt Kinabalu National Park in Sabah.