Wednesday, December 6

WWF-Malaysia honoured to co-host Eco Challenge in July


The scenic Kumap Waterfall in Ba Kelalan. — Photo courtesy of Edwin Meru.

MIRI: WWF-Malaysia is honoured to partner the state government, Curtin University Sarawak and Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (Formadat) in co-hosting ‘The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge’ in July.

Its head of Conservation
Dr Henry Chan is confident that such ecotourism activities implemented in a responsible manner, driven by the community themselves, and with a focus on nature, would empower the people to generate livelihood activities that strongly feature conservation.

Besides, he said, responsible ecotourism would allow people to know the various types of plants, their names and uses. Scientists call this Ethnobotany.

“The slow walk, observing the bounty of nature in the forests, and camping together for a few nights, serve to foster close relationship between the visitors and the Lun Bawang and Kelabit people who are famous for their hospitality.

“The visitors would develop a deep sense of appreciation towards nature, and respect for the local community who have introduced them to this new spectrum of viewing the world,” he said.

Chan said this at the joint Eco Challenge pre-recce press conference held at Curtin Sarawak yesterday, together with the event director John Tarawe and Curtin Sarawak Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Jim Mienczakowski.

The inaugural eco challenge will run from July 25 to 30 at Ba Kelalan and Bario.

Chan added that the 6-day trek, from Ba Kelalan to Bario through pristine forest, scenic mountains, rivers and villages was not only important to the people living there but also vital to the Heart of Borneo Initiative.

He said that Heart of Borneo Initiative was a joint effort of the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to manage 22 million hectares of land and forest in central Borneo.

The track lies right in the midst of a corridor linking Sarawak to Sabah, Kalimantan and Brunei, and onwards to the rest of the island.

“Named the Heart of Borneo Corridor, this new project seeks to connect a series of existing linkages through the world’s third biggest island. Spanning millions of hectares, and running at more than 2,000km, the HoB Corridor is potentially the world’s longest connected landscape.

“Indeed, the HoB corridor is Borneo’s gift to humanity. WWF is therefore honoured to partner the state government, Curtin and Formadat to make this corridor project possible along a vital landscape that acts as bridge linking the three states of Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan.”

Meanwhile, Mienczakowski said Curtin Sarawak fully supported the Eco Challenge because it was in line with the university’s emphasis on environmental concern. He said the challenge was very timely and is confident it could become a signature event for Sarawak.