KINABATANGAN: Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) has embarked on a 10-year programme with a resort here to prove that people are more likely to benefit from natural forest that are teeming with wildlife than without.
BCT conservation and research head, Raymond Alfred said in a press statement yesterday that the 10-year programme is currently carried out on the 100 acres of forest land belonging to Myne Resort.
“We will carry out three core activities during this duration and they are geared towards the conservation and management of the 100 acres of forest land belonging to the resort,” he said.
The resort has, earlier this year, pledged not to clear the forest land and said that its intention was to maintain and protect the rainforest for wildlife corridor that would benefit wildlife such as the Bornean pygmy elephants, the orangutans and others.
The activities that will be carried out during that duration shall be the establishment of the wild orangutan sighting and Bornean pygmy elephants’ observation platform.
“We believe this move will encourage more people to come and visit the Lower Kinabatangan Mega Biodiversity Corridor which is within the Myne’s Forest corridor. Additionally, they can also learn what they can do to support conservation efforts in the area,” he said.
BCT will also carry out a unique wildlife observation programme which will be opened to volunteers who were keen to take part in actual field recreation work.
“This will encompass the enrichment and restoration programme for wildlife…it will become one of the activities that Myne Resort can offer to its visitors from both locally and abroad,” he said.
BCT would also develop a long-term volunteer programme that encourages youth participation, he said.
“We will also continuously promote the said land as an orangutan conservation area and elephant corridor that connects the wildlife to the bigger Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” he said.
To date, the BCT and Myne Resort’s project aimed at preserving the forest had not received any funding from the government or any international donors to initiate this programme, and this programme was initiated by the private sector, he said.
“We do get some donations from tourists and volunteers who are supportive of our programme,” he said.
He added that the support and guidance from the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the Tourism, Culture and Environment were crucial for the success of the endeavour.
“We also need the support of other relevant government agencies especially Sabah Forestry Department and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, particularly those involved in the REDD+ programme,” he said.
Equally important, said Raymond, was the support from the European countries as BCT, which was a non-government organisation (NGO) and Myne Resort, a player in the private sector, had committed itself to secure and protect the forest which would help mitigate the climate change crisis.
Raymond said that the total cost of the programme, that is protecting the rainforest was not yet known.
“Since we have just initiated the project in January, this year, we are still in the process of estimating the cost of protecting the rainforest area per hectare. We hope we can come up with the estimation by the end of this year or by early 2014,” he said.
Nevertheless, a recent awareness programme by a group of Japanese students has provided some preliminary insight that the tourism industry and diversified volunteer programme had the capacity to further support the conservation programme and also further secure and protect the rainforest, he said.
He also said that it was still too early for them to determine whether the alternative income and trade-offs for the beneficiaries derived from the endeavour would be better than, say, converting the land for logging and oil palm.
“However, we are optimistic that in the long term, Myne Resort will receive permanent gain from the protection of the 100 acres of rainforest.”
He added that they hope to duplicate the programme to other forest areas that still has an abundant of wildlife.
Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that the implementation of the programme between BCT and Myne Resort had already benefitted the Bilit community at the Kinabatangan.
“BCT and Myne Resort had recruited the local community from the village as part of their capacity building programme. The local communities have also been involved in tree planting activities which were part of the programme,”said Laurentius.