31 more areas to be gazetted as Totally Protected Areas

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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Sapuan (second left) presenting a special award to Sami Nor (middle) as Braken (second right) and Hon (right) look on.

Sapuan (second left) presenting a special award of appreciation to 91-year-old Sami Nor (middle), secretary for the Bako Village Community Committee as Braken (second right) and Hon (right) look on.

KUCHING: The Forest Department of Sarawak (FDS) is in the midst of creating 31 more areas as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs).

As of July this year, Sarawak has gazetted a total area of 903,769 hectares as TPAs consisting of 43 national parks, 14 nature reserves and six wildlife sanctuaries. The additional 31 areas will cover an area of 451,819 hectares.

“By the time this could be accomplished in 2020, Sarawak will have 1.3 million hectares of TPAs,” said State Forestry Department director Sapuan Ahmad during the opening ceremony of the Managing Beyond Boundaries: Enhancing Multi-Stakeholder Participation Towards Effective Protected Areas Management conference on August 10th.

Organised by the Forest Department of Sarawak (FDS) and WWF-Malaysia, the three-day conference from Aug 10-12 aims to identify gaps and common interest between protected areas management authorities and other stakeholders in relation to protecting and conserving natural resources as well as enhancing the livelihood of communities in its surrounding protected areas.

“The big issue about managing biodiversity is knowing what we have. It is important to know that managing beyond boundaries is not about managing sites, it is about managing people,” said Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) deputy general manager Oswald Braken Tisen.

Oswald noted that Sarawak had a handful of programmes involving local communities such as the special park committee, honorary wildlife ranger, community development projects, awareness programs, joint enforcement and ecotourism.

“Ecotourism is in fact a very important management because it allows people to benefit from the existing property,” he added.

According to WWF Malaysia Sarawak Programme leader Dr Jason Hon, people living in the surrounding areas of protected areas are the most likely beneficiaries of the economic and environmental spin-offs.

“The local people provide services for visitors, researchers and so on while at the same time enjoying one of the best protected natural surroundings in Sarawak that provide them with ample environmental services such as clean water and fresh air.”

Around 150 participants from government agencies, private organisations, communities and NGOs will be taking part in the conference.

Among the speakers at the conference are FDS deputy controller Azahari Omar on ‘Constituting and Present Status of Sarawak’s Protected Areas (TPAs and PFEs); SFC manager Victor Luna Amin on ‘Understanding Opportunities and Challenges in Protected Areas Management’ and Sabah Parks deputy assistant director Ludi Apin on ‘Importance of Policies in Engaging Multi-stakeholder’ on the first day.

Among other topics that will be presented throughout the conference are ‘NGOs role in supporting protection and conservation of natural resources through stakeholder engagement’, ‘Bringing businesses in protected areas management; Good vs Bad?’, ‘ITTO role in Sarawak towards empowerment of local community in sustainable natural resources management’, ‘Managing beyond boundaries #TeamCommunity’, and ‘Understanding the challenges and gaps in multi-stakeholders engagement at national, state and site levels’.

Also present during the opening ceremony was Azahari and spokesperson of the Bako Village Community Sami Nor who received a special appreciation award for his works and commitment in the gazettement of Bako National Park.

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