MNS lauds Sabah's commitment to state forest

KOTA KINABALU (May 5) The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Sabah Branch lauds the state government’s commitment to gazette high biodiversity forests as Totally Protected Areas (TPA), with the aim of protecting at least 30% of the state’s forests by 2025.

Its chairperson Anna Wong said the statement by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Tun Juhar Mahiruddin during the state government policy speech at the 1st Meeting of the 3rd term of Sabah State Assembly sitting on April 16, is a boon to Sabah’s forests and biodiversity.

“With 1.9 million hectares, or 25%, of the forests already gazetted, Sabah leads the country in protecting its natural treasures, which include the pygmy elephant, orangutan and other endemic flora and fauna.

“MNS Sabah fully supports the state’s green pledge and is very happy to lend any assistance to realise this vision,” she said in a statement here, yesterday.

Wong said the MNS offers to share its knowledge and data on Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), which could help identify forests that need to be gazetted as TPAs, or current TPAs that may be under threat.

Already, Sabah’s IBAs include protected areas such as Mount Kinabalu, Danum Valley Conservation Area and Maliau Basin Conservation Area, while biodiversity hotspots being researched include Deramakot Forest Reserve, Imbak Canyon Conservation Area, Lipaso Forest Reserve, Sg Rawog Conservation Area and Ulu Padas Highlands.

Wong also explained that MNS’s IBA work has been ongoing through its partnership with BirdLife International, with the global organisation spending more than 30 years collectively identifying and documenting 13,000 IBA sites around the world for protection and conservation.

Of Malaysia’s 55 IBA sites, 15 are located in Sabah, with another 18 in Peninsular Malaysia and 22 in Sarawak, as detailed in the MNS-produced Directory of Important Bird Areas in Malaysia: key sites for conservation (2007).

Wong said the internationally recognised IBA listing has played a significant role in the conservation of birds and other biodiversity and is widely acknowledged as a practical tool for conservation.

IBA recognition also provides essential benefits to the people, including in terms of ecosystem services and recreational needs, and Wong recommends IBA information to be included as reference or source in the state’s TPA considerations, she added.

“Cooperation with the state government would allow MNS to share its existing IBA data on Sabah’s biodiversity to further enrich the state’s protection of its forests,” she said.

In turn, as MNS is currently undertaking a review of Malaysia’s IBAs, Wong hopes that with the support from the state, we can contribute to help the government to materialise its vision.

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