Awang Tengah: MoU with Copenhagen Zoo a game changer in tropical biodiversity conservation

Awang Tengah (standing, centre) witnessing the signing of the MoU. Representing the Sarawak government is SFD acting director Hamdan Mohammad (seated, second from left) and SFD deputy director Jack Liam (seated, left), while representing Copenhagen Zoo is its director Bengt Holst (seated, second from right) and Dr Carl Traelholt (seated, right). Awang Tengah is flanked by Len (on his right) and Gerawat.

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KUCHING, June 26: The Sarawak government sees the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the state and Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark, on species protection and habitat conservation as a game changer in tropical biodiversity conservation.

Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the synergy that could be derived from this partnership would not only benefit the scientific community but would also cut across all sections of society, vis-a-vis urban and rural communities.

“It also enables the transfer of their technology to the researchers of the Sarawak Forestry Department (SFD) and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC),” he said today when launching ‘Heart of Borneo (HoB) Scientific Expedition, Tama Abu Seminar 2018: When the Beat Becomes Rhythm’ and witnessing the signing of the MoU.

Awang Tengah, who is also deputy chief minister, hoped the MoU would be expanded to include ways to integrate or balance the relationship between species conservation and habitat in order to enhance the livelihood of the local indigenous people.

“This is important not only in trying to give them (local people) initiatives to utilise non-timber products but we should also identify more community-driven activities. One of such sectors is eco-tourism.”

He pointed out that since Copenhagen Zoo had experience, he hoped that through the MoU, there might be cooperation in this area.

On HoB and the seminar, he said the HoB was a manifestation of Sarawak’s continuous and sustained commitment towards conservation of its flora and fauna.

“The participation of local and international experts in various disciplines in these scientific expeditions at your own costs speaks volume of your interest and commitment in the search for knowledge and, thereafter, sharing your observations, findings, data and comprehensive results with fellow experts in conferences like this is highly commendable.

“Moving forward, the state government, through my Ministry, is committed and supportive of SFD’s effort to conduct more scientific expeditions, especially to unexplored and totally protected areas of the state,” he said.

Awang Tengah said his ministry was committed to conducting more scientific expeditions and would support SFD to conduct HoB scientific expeditions on a yearly basis.

He also said he had faith that the officers of SFD and SFC had the experience and capacity to organise HoB expeditions, which are now conducted on a biennial basis.

Also present were Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif and Deputy Sarawak Assembly Speaker Gerawat Gala. — DayakDaily