Kuching plays host to 55th ATBC confab

Abang Johari (third from right) playing a musical instrument to symbolically launch the conference today.

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KUCHING, July 1: A total of 850 foreign delegates from 60 countries are in town for the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) and conference.

According to Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, who officiated at the function, the main objective of the gathering was to compare notes and discuss the best ways to conserve the natural ecosystem and biodiversity to protect Mother Earth.

The chief minister told those present that Sarawak had a special link with tropical biology as a scientific discipline.

“In 1854, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace visited Kuching and spent two years studying evolution by natural selection and the geographical distribution of organisms. It led to him being considered the co-discoverer of natural selection together with Charles Darwin,” said Abang Johari.

He said Sarawak is currently developing a spectral mixed dipterocarp forest database with various universities, including Salford University, Lincoln University and a local university.

It had also built strategic conservation partnership with various countries, including Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, USA, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, ASEAN and the Middle East.

“We also have scientific collaborations with international bodies such as the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), South African Leading Petrol Stations Operator (FOMISS), and Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management (APFnet).”

A section of the delegates attending the conference.

He assured the international delegates that Sarawak had been managing its forests based on the principles of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).

“We invited the FAO in 1968 and ITTO in 1989 to undertake a study of sustainable forest management in Sarawak, and they recommended to us ways to manage our forest effectively.

“The findings covered a wide spectrum of subjects on sustainable timber yield, sustainable catchment management, biological diversity and economic sustainability. All of these recommendations have been complied with and implemented,” he assured.

Abang Johari also stressed that Sarawak had formulated various policies and legislations to sustainably manage and conserve its forests and wildlife.

ATBC is the largest professional association for people studying and conserving tropical ecosystems. This is the first time in its 55-year history that the global ATBC meeting is held in Malaysia. — DayakDaily