Putrajaya will continue supporting HoB initiative, assures minister

Dr Xavier hitting the gong to declare open the 12th HoB meeting. Len Talif is fourth from left.

MIRI, Sept 27: The federal government will continue to support the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative as it is in tandem with existing policies and programmes on sustainable development, land use and conservation at both state and national levels.

Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar said Putrajaya had given more than RM100 million to Sabah and Sarawak for the HoB project since 2009, adding that the government would also welcome financial and technical assistance from international organisations.

“Malaysia views HoB as an important initiative that will directly contribute towards betterment in forest management, conservation, sustainable land use and well-being of its people,” he said when officiating at the opening of the 12th HoB Trilateral Meeting here today.

He told those present that it was pertinent for Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to have closer cooperation as well as find opportunities for continuous support from relevant stakeholders to ensure the success of HoB.

On this year’s theme ‘Integrating sustainable development and conservation with HoB landscapes’, he remarked that it was indeed very timely as sustainable development was very important at present, besides providing enabling conditions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for more equitable sharing of benefits and for reducing the drivers of biodiversity loss.

HoB is a voluntary trans-boundary cooperation between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is aimed at conserving and managing the contiguous tropical forest in the island of Borneo. The ‘Declaration on Heart of Borneo Initiative’ was signed in Bali, Indonesia, on Feb 12, 2007.

Dr Xavier (seated fifth from right) and Len Talif (seated fourth from left) posing for a group photo with the HoB delegates after the opening of the meeting on Thursday.

HoB currently covers approximately 20 million hectares of ecologically interconnected rainforest in Borneo. Sabah and Sarawak have identified about 3.9 million hectares and 2.7 million hectares respectively for HoB.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan gave assurance that the state government was committed to managing its forest and forest resources in a sustainable manner.

“This commitment is further affirmed by a policy requiring all long-term timber licences to obtain Forest Management Certification by 2022. In addition, the state government also encourages oil palm companies to obtain certification to ensure sustainability and good agriculture practices,” he said. His text-of-speech was read out by Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh.

Awang Tengah said Sarawak was promoting the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources through an integrated watershed management system in order to maximise economic and social welfare and also equity without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment.

He added that the state had increased its HoB area from 2.1 million hectares to 2.7 million hectares; thus, he hoped the federal government would give the state more money to implement activities and programmes within the HoB.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources secretary-general Dato Dr Tan Yew Chong, Sarawak Forest Department director Hamden Mohammad, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Brunei Darussalam representative Muhd Safwan Abdullah Bibi, Dr Prabianto Mukti Wibowo of Indonesia and Sabah Forest Department deputy chief conservator Frederick Kugan. — DayakDaily