Sarawak using “Wildlife Trade Off” to help unshackle the chains of rural poverty

Hamden (front row, left) and Holst exchanging the signed MoU documents as Traelholt (right) looks on. With them are (from third left, second row) Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Deputy Sarawak Legislative Assembly Speaker Gerawat Gala.

KUCHING, June 26: Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) has come up with a novel idea to help eradicate rural poverty, and they coined it “Wildlife Trade Off”.

Its acting director, Hamden Mohammad, said the initiative came about after the Long Banga Scientific Expedition 2016, and its focus was on the integration of wildlife conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources by the local community.

“The main objective of the project is rural poverty eradication,” said Hamden at the opening of ‘Heart of Borneo (HoB) Scientific Expedition, Tama Abu Seminar 2018: When the Beat Becomes Rhythm’ cum the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak government and Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark.

Representing Copenhagen Zoo were Copenhagen Zoo director Bengt Holst and Dr Carl Traelholt.

Hamden said the MoU was a collaboration centred on species conservation and habitat protection.

“Sarawak HoB areas are known to have high biodiversity. However, the extreme physical conditions make some of the areas remain unknown.

“Under this initiative, the federal and state governments have funded projects such as acquiring hyper-spectral technology equipment for resource management, forest monitoring and enforcement activities within the HoB area and other forested areas in the state,” said Hamden.

He added that the HoB initiative was similar to international multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Convention on International Importance, especially Waterfowl Habitat (RAMSAR), where Sarawak plays an important role in the nation’s agenda.

Under this initiative, are a few conservation areas of importance, namely Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Pulong Tau National Park, Batang Ai National Park and Gunung Mulu National Park.

The HoB initiative is a voluntary trans-boundary cooperation of three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. It combines the stakeholders’ interests based on local wisdom, acknowledgement of and respect of laws, regulations and policies in the respective countries and taking into consideration relevant multilateral environment agreements, as well as existing regional and bilateral agreements.

The Sarawak HoB areas stretch from Lawas to the Batang Ai National Park, with total area of 2.1 million hectares. However, the Sarawak government has agreed to extend its HoB areas from Batang Ai National Park down to Tanjung Datu National Park in the south, with the new total area being about 2.7 million hectares.

Since 2008, FDS has carried out five scientific expeditions in HoB areas.

The ‘HoB Scientific Expedition, Tama Abu Seminar 2018: When the Beat Becomes Rhythm’ will address key aspects of biodiversity of Tama Abu by providing a platform for the researchers and scientists involved to share, report and discuss scientific finding, achievements and challenges during the Tama Abu Expedition from August 18 to 27, 2017. — DayakDaily