“60 TPAs gazetted to strengthen state’s biodiversity research, conservation efforts”

Abdullah (right) receives a gift from Hamden as a token of appreciation for officiating at the event.

KUCHING, July 31: Sarawak has gazetted 60 totally protected areas (TPAs) including national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries to enhance biodiversity research and conservation efforts.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the protected areas covered 788,886ha of land area and territorial waters totalling 231,954ha, which included the Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources added that gazetted areas such as Lambir Hills National Park, covering 7,000ha, has been recognised as one of the world’s most ecologically diverse areas.

When scientists sampled 52ha of the park areas, some 1,500 species of trees, each supporting 1,200 species of insects, were found, he continued.

Awang Tengah also cited Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Kuching Wetlands National Park, Bako National Park and Gunung Gading National Park, all situated near the state capital, where visitors can learn about and experience the state’s conservation efforts.

“The state government has established Sarawak Biodiversity Centre to initiate intensive biotech based research and development of our biological resources, particularly those that have been utilised by indigenous communities and to facilitate the documentation of the fast disappearing traditional knowledge of the usage of these biological resources.

“To date, a total of 1,324 species has been documented with useful traditional knowledge for medicine including food and nutrition, out of which, six plants have been selected for further research and development for commercialisation,” he said at the welcoming dinner of the 18th Malaysian Forestry Conference here Tuesday.

His text-of-speech was read out by Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol.

To further exploit the potential of the state’s natural resources, Awang Tengah said the government has set up the Bio-Valley Park in Miri costing RM60.6 million, featuring plant facilities for research and commercialisation.

The minister said Sarawak is also committed to the nation’s objective towards Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and one of the mitigation measures was through sustainable forest management.

“The Heart of Borneo project is indeed our pride to show how the various governments of Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), Brunei and Indonesia can work together towards achieving sustainable forest management, conservation of biological diversity, sustainable agriculture and land use, community-based programmes and promoting ecotourism,” Awang Tengah said.

Meanwhile, state Forestry Department director Hamden Mohammad said some 600 participants and observers are attending the three-day conference (July 31-Aug 2) which is held every three years on a rotational basis between Sarawak, Sabah and the Peninsular Malaysia.

Themed “Advancing sustainable forestry through technology and digitisation”, topics for the conference include forest governance, sustainable forest management, forest biodiversity, plantation forestry, forest ecosystem services and forest beyond timber. — DayakDaily