KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is committed to achieving its commitments in protecting the environment, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.
“The State Government has had to forgo substantial revenue from natural resources, especially in timber.
“This is to ensure Sabah’s ecosystem is resilient in supporting our needs and that of the world,” Musa said in a speech delivered by Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang at the second Satoyama Initiative Regional Workshop for Asia here yesterday.
The three-day event is organized by the Secretariat of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), at the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), together with the Sabah State Government, with cooperation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Project on Sustainable Development for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation in Sabah, Malaysia (SDBEC).
Under Target 11 of Aichi Targets, Musa said Malaysia was committed to achieving at least 20 per cent of protected forest areas in the country by 2020.
“However, Sabah has already achieved 26 per cent under Totally Protected Areas, which was about 1.87 million hectares,” he said.
Musa added that the State Government aspired to achieve 30 per cent or 2.2 million hectares under Totally Protected Areas by 2025.
“This shows our strong commitment to the conservation of biodiversity and environment, and I believe it will contribute significantly to Malaysia’s commitment in achieving the Aichi Target.
“It is also our hope that the international community recognizes our commitment and supports us by contributing more funding to natural conservation in Sabah,” he said.
Musa said Sabah was endowed with unique fauna, flora and ecosystems, and the State Government was committed to ensuring Sabah’s heritage would be conserved and enhanced further for the benefit of the people.
“Testimony to this are initiatives implemented by the State Government with the support of the Federal Government and other local and international organizations in getting global recognition for some of our conservation areas.”
Apart from Mount Kinabalu which is a World Heritage Site, he said Sabah also has the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve under Man and Biosphere Programme for UNESCO.
“We have the biggest Ramsar site in Malaysia with an area of more than 78,000 hectares on the east coast, and last month we were informed that Kota Kinabalu Wetland has been officially designated as a Ramsar site.
“Sabah is willing to register this area as a Ramsar site although the area is considered a prime area for development in Kota Kinabalu city.
“This is our commitment towards sustainable management of natural resources in the State,” Musa said.
Other than preserving and protecting the environment, Musa said Sabah was also committed to ensuring socio-economic activities adhere to good practice of natural resources development.
He said the State Government through Sabah Forestry Department had made forestry certification compulsory under the Forest Stewardship Council and other certificate schemes.
“The State Government also made a bold move by requiring the palm oil industry in Sabah to be 100 per cent certified under Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards by 2025.
“We believe that by enhancing the resilience of our ecosystem with sufficient protected areas and by embarking on a green economy, we can become a developed state with a sustainable society.”
Furthermore, Musa said relevant agencies in Sabah would continue to engage the people of Sabah in their pursuit of ensuring the ecosystems were protected and resilient.
“One of our strategies under the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022 is to promote the bio-cultural concept in the management of natural resources.”
He said a working group chaired by the Natural Resources Office and members comprising all stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations had been formed.
“This Second Asian Workshop on Satoyama Initiative is part of the capacity building of this bio-cultural working group or better known as the Working Group on Community-Based Natural Resources Management or CBNRM.”
The Satoyama Initiative is a global-scale initiative to promote the revitalization and sustainable management of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes, which are areas where a mosaic of human land-uses and natural habitats coexist with benefits for both the environment and for the people.
The Satoyama Initiative has been recognized under the international process of the Convention for Biological Diversity as useful for the benefit of biodiversity and human well-being.
Musa said the theme of the workshop, ‘Mainstreaming Concepts and Approaches of Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes in Asia’, was appropriate and commendable.
In the process of adapting to the ever changing environment, Musa said Sabah had created a number of good practices for conserving natural resources which could be shared during the workshop, with hopes that these could be applied to other regions in Asia and the rest of the world.
“The Tagal system of sustainable fish harvesting in rivers assists the State Government in promoting sustainable fish resource management and in conserving aquatic species, and quality of water as well.”
He said another good example of mainstreaming of bio-cultural concepts in the management of ecosystems was the use of Indigenous Community Conservation Areas or ICCA in the Ecolink project.
“Under this Ecolink project, Sabah Parks is hoping to establish ecosystem connectivity between Mount Kinabalu World Heritage and Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve which are separated by state land.
“I hope participants from Sabah can exchange views with their international counterparts and can come up with good strategies in mainstreaming Satoyama concepts locally.”
Meanwhile, IPSI Secretariat director Naoya Tsukamoto said the Satoyama Initiative concept originally started in Asia and it was still most widely known in the region.
“Within Asia, Sabah, in particular, has been a site where many socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS), have been sustainably managed for a long time.”
He said more than 200 people, including around 45 invited guests from overseas, were expected to attend the workshop, many of whom would stay for in-depth discussions in working groups for three days.
“We have already produced one volume of our ‘Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review’ publication series about mainstreaming SEPLS concepts and approaches.
“One goal of this workshop is to produce a policy brief or another publication about mainstreaming SEPLS, focusing on Asia.” he said.
Tsukamoto said IPSI was also working to contribute to the work of the Inter-governmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
The event is the fifth Regional Workshop organized by the IPSI Secretariat and the second in Asia.
Previous workshops have been held in Kathmandu, Nepal for the Asian region in 2013, in Florence, Italy for the European region in 2014, in Accra, Ghana for the African region in 2015, and in Cusco, Peru for the Latin America and Caribbean region in 2016.
Also present at the event were Sabah Natural Resources Office secretary Amat Mohd Yusof and Dr Marisa Aramaki from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, representing the director-general of the Nature Conservation Bureau, Reiji Kamezawa.