WWF Malaysia welcomes federal budget conservation funding

WWF Malaysia logo.

KUCHING, Oct 11: World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF Malaysia) welcomes the allocation of RM48 million announced in the National Budget 2020 in support of Central Forest Spine (CFS) and Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiatives, as well as to restore degraded forests in the country conservation efforts.

WWF Malaysia Conservation director Dr Henry Chan lauded the RM20 million in the budget allocation to employ rangers and that the inclusion of the Orang Asli as rangers was a good step.

“Major steps needed to be taken to curb wildlife crime, including increasing patrolling efforts to guard our natural assets,” he said in a press release today.

WWF Malaysia also applauded improved measures to protect the country’s natural assets, address biodiversity loss and protect ecosystem services.

“I am please to see the budget provide support to MESTECC’s commitment to move to renewable energy mix of 20 per cent through the expansion of the Green Tax Investment Allowance (GITA),” he said considering that climate change was a present and growing danger that posed real costs to society.

“We also hope that the Rural Electric Power Supply Project focuses on the installation of renewable energy, which has become more cost-effective and can provide jobs for those in the local community,”he urged.

Chan also welcomes the allocation of RM443.9 million for Flood Mitigation Plan and RM150 million to maintain and manage existing flood retention ponds.

“An estimated 22 per cent of the population is directly affected by floods. With increased migration from rural areas to cities, flash floods and the damages that they cause are expected to increase every year,” he said.

“It is hoped that the government will consider looking at nature-based solutions and behaviour change initiatives to prevent these flash floods from happening in the first place,” he added.

He stressed that it was also high time that Malaysians stop treating their drains and rivers as garbage dumps to prevent blockage which in turn could minimise the risk of flash floods during rainy seasons.

While Budget 2019 sought to afford financial allocation for efforts in managing protected areas which benefits both the marine and terrestrial sphere, he pointed out that Budget 2020 has notable allocations for improving conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and wildlife.

“With less than 200 Malayan tigers left in the wild, it is right that protection of this species is made a national priority before they extinct. These magnificent animals call the natural forests within CFS their home, the same forests where our water originates from,” he stressed.

“However, marine biodiversity seems to have been neglected altogether, despite the numerous trouble at sea, including the crash of our fish stock to four per cent of the original stock from the 1960s,” he said.

“If Malaysia truly aspires to develop a sustainable ocean economy, our marine natural assets need to be conserved, enhanced and sustainably managed. Allocation is very much needed in enhancing conservation efforts in key seascapes within and beyond the Coral Triangle area to recover damaged marine ecosystems, prevent illegal fishing and poaching of marine wildlife,” he added.

Chan agreed that the increase of yield in a given hectare of agriculture helps in fulfilling demand whilst preventing opening up of new areas for agriculture.

He noted that currently there were large areas of oil palm plantations with low productivity and the RM550 million allocated for loans towards replanting by smallholders was envisioned to see better yields in the future.

“WWF Malaysia applauds this move as an enabler to improve efficiency and productivity in oil palm production. However, WWF-Malaysia urges allocations towards greater sustainability in the oil palm sector, to curb deforestation caused by the industry,” he called on.

As for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) initiatives, Chan commended the allocation of RM5 million to address SDGs at the grassroots level.

“Formal government action on SDGs has yet to be mainstreamed to the level of local constituencies. This allocation will thus boost efforts to address grassroots issues using SDGs, incorporating economic, social, environmental, human rights and good governance aspirations, with the theme of ‘leaving no one behind,” he concluded.— DayakDaily