KOTA KINABALU: Both Federal and State Governments will continue to work together and adopt best practices in forest management and biodiversity conservation.
Speaking at the launch of the opening ceremony of the International Conference on “Enhancing Biodiversity Towards No Net Loss and Beyond Within the Hearts of Borneo Landscape” held at the Magellan Sutera near here yesterday, Natural Resources and Environment minister, Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said that the key focus in driving towards sustainability will be restoring and rebuilding the productive capacity of the forests, rationalising forest land use from the ecological and social perspective, including enhancing the Heart of Borneo (HoB) landscapes in Sabah through no net loss implementation.
“The government recognises the need to have a wide stakeholder participation, and therefore adopts an open and broad partnership programme at local and international levels, as part of the efforts to institutionalise the conservation and management of its forest,” he said.
He cited that the conference as well as many other past international conferences and forums were examples of engaging all interested stakeholders.
He also said that in the 10th Malaysia Development Plan (10MP), various efforts were implemented to ensure that the country’s forests and biodiversity were conserved.
“Management of biodiversity in Malaysia is of a balance nature where it takes into account the country’s aspiration to become a developed nation and at the same time observing the need to maintain biodiversity intactness,” he said.
He then commended the Sabah Forestry Department for promoting biodiversity and for looking into various efforts to enhance biodiversity.
On the HoB initiative, Palanivel said that it was geared towards conserving and efficiently managing the rich biodiversity within tropical rainforests on the island of Borneo.
“The initiative is very much in line with the vision of the Sabah Forestry Department towards the realisation of sustainable forest management and the mission to effectively and efficiently plan and implement the management of the State’s forest resources in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management, incorporating biodiversity conservation,” he said.
Palanivel also explained the ‘No Net Loss’ or ‘Biodiversity Offset’, stating that it was a process of mitigation aiming to prevent and offset the destruction or degradation of landscapes within the HoB in Sabah.
“This can be achieved through coordinated efforts which include forest protection, restoration, rehabilitation, enhancement, management, environmental education and awareness, and research. This would bring about measurable outcomes to compensate for significant residual adverse impacts arising from any development project after appropriate preventive measures have been taken,” he said.
He then added that the objectives of the conference held yesterday were to assess the current situation of the no net loss and its challenges; exchange ideas and experiences from other countries and the industry on the best practices; and explore recommendations on the design and implementation of mitigation measures, offsets and conservation banks.
“I hope that this conference will recommend the way forward to advance no net loss implementation that would bring the HoB implementation in Sabah to greater heights,” he said.
At the same time, Palanivel also spoke of the State Government’s readiness to expand the size of its Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) to 30 per cent of Sabah’s land mass within a decade or 2.1 million hectares from the current 1.35 million hectares or 18.6 per cent in view of its commitment to forest conservation.
“The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has set a standard of 10 per cent of the land area to be established as TPAs. Hence, I am pleased that Sabah has achieved far more than that!”
He added that Sabah has set 53 per cent or about 3.9 million hectares of the state land mass as protected areas or conservation sites.
“These include forest reserves, state parks, wildlife sanctuary and wildlife conservation sites,” he said.
“One of the key contributions towards the success of Sabah’s efforts in conservation is the implementation of the HoB initiative. Much has been accomplished from the HoB implementation since 2007. This includes restoration of degraded forests and biodiversity documentation through scientific expeditions in TPAs within the HoB landscapes.”