KUCHING: To ensure the land use in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area is sustainably managed, the state government has directed timber concession operators in the area to obtain forest management certification by July this year.
Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this is part of the strategy to achieve sustainable land use goals which includes constitution of additional Totally Protected Areas (TPA) and establishment of Trans Boundary Conservation Areas.
“The state government remains fully committed to expand the Totally Protected Areas (TPA) in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area to achieve one million hectares by the year 2020.
“We have presently gazetted about 942,000 hectares, including water bodies, as Totally Protected Areas,” he said at the official launch of the two-day HoB Long Banga Scientific Expedition Seminar 2017 at Imperial Hotel here yesterday.
Awang Tengah, who is also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment Minister, pointed out that the HoB initiative is in line with the government’s land use policy and the unwavering commitment to sustainable forest management.
“Presently the government has set aside 2.1 million hectares as HoB area, which includes a network of protected areas, productive forests and other land uses that are sustainably managed for the benefit of the local communities and public,” he said.
The minister also noted that while HoB provides an important platform for Sarawak to protect, conserve and even enhance what has been bestowed upon the state by nature, it will not be the only platform.
Awang Tengah added that to further strengthen Sarawak’s commitment, it has instituted an open-door policy for scientific studies to be carried out in the bio-rich areas of the state and the Long Banga Scientific Expedition is the latest of such studies.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad said the HoB Long Banga Scientific Expedition was organised by the department from August 21 to September 2 last year, involving a team of 114 scientists coming from various countries and research institutions.
“Objectives of the expedition were to confirm the existence of rhinoceros and tembadau (Bos javanicus) reported to roam the area in Long Banga, as well as to collect, document and analyse scientific data on flora and fauna.
“We also studied the potential of tourism and conducted study on the sociology and anthropology of local tribes, besides documenting wildlife to assess need for conservation.
“From the results of the expedition, we will identify important areas that need attention or further study,” he said, adding that this year’s scientific expedition will be at Tama Abu Range in August.
HoB initiative is a voluntary trans boundary cooperation between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei in efforts to conserve and protect one of the most diverse natural ecosystems on Earth and the largest contiguous tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia.
Also present were Assistant Minister for Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Resource Planning and Environment Ministry permanent secretary Dr. Wan Liz Ozman Wan Omar, Deputy DUN Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, Permodalan ASSAR Sdn Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Bujang Mohd Nor and others.