Inaugural BRainS 2016 adopts Belum rainforest blueprint

Focus on four critical issues with measurable actions and results

Tree-planting ceremony attended by key government officials and international speakers as part of the official opening of BRainS 2016.

Tree-planting ceremony attended by key government officials and international speakers as part of the official opening of BRainS 2016.

PULAU BANDING: The inaugural Belum Rainforest Summit 2016 (BRainS 2016) which brought together 100 conservationists, scientists and policy makers from five continents over six days to discuss pressing topics such as biodiversity conservation, climate change, payment for ecosystem services and sustainable resource management, closed today with the adoption of the ‘Belum Rainforest Blueprint’.

The Blueprint was the culmination of six days of expert dialogue which included international speakers such as Prof Dr. Michael Wingfield, President of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), who talked about building sustainable forest ecosystems; Prof Dr. Richard Murphy, Director of the Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, whose topic revolved around global funding opportunities for conservation; Martin Hollands, a senior advisor of BirdLife International who shared his research on how changing economic models affected forest management; Manoj Gautam, Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, who shared his case studies on successful conservation efforts in Nepal; and Dr Jenny Wong, Programme Director for the Climate Change Secretariat, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), whose keynote address emphasised the crucial role played by forests in climate change mitigation.

Titled ‘Blueprint for Local Action to Protect and Sustainably Manage the Belum-Temengor Rainforest’ the document highlights four areas of vital importance to Belum-Temengor. Taking
international experience and best practices into account it prescribes measurable action points, defines results and sets timelines.

“The Blueprint is the highlight and main purpose of the entire summit. We wanted to prevent BRainS 2016 from being a mere ‘talk shop’ and ensure it would be a proper meeting of minds to
ensure measurable actions will be taken as a result. We need to be a part of the solution,” said
Ahmad Khalif Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal, the Executive Director of the EMKAY Group and a Trustee of the Pulau Banding Foundation.

Blueprint focus areas

The first area of the Blueprint addresses the tiger population of Belum-Temengor. As apex predators, tigers are important bio-indicators of the health of the rainforest ecosystem. The
Blueprint outlines the steps to be taken in order to increase the tiger population by 20 per cent within four years by strengthening enforcement on poaching, increasing the amount of prey in the tigers’ home range and conserving the salt licks which are vital to their survival.

Although there are already measures in place to preserve Belum-Temengor’s tigers, the Blueprint
highlights the importance of tigers to the rainforest ecosystem and indicates more direct actions to improve the tiger population.

The second area focuses on sustainable management of Belum-Temengor. Using the concept of payment for ecosystem services which has been successfully applied in other countries, the Blueprint recommends collaboration with the Malaysian federal government to produce a biodiversity fund that can be used to preserve and properly maintain the Belum-Temengor
rainforest complex. There is also a move to have more innovative means to finance the conservation of the Belum-Temengor rainforest.

Internal stakeholder management forms the core of the third area. This area calls for the formation of new bodies such as a Belum-Temengor Rainforest Council and a Joint Operation Force. The former would engage all stakeholders on a monthly basis to come up with the best way forward for Belum-Temengor as stated in the Integrated Master Plan for Belum-Temengor while the latter will be responsible for monitoring all movement in the rainforest complex. These bodies would ensure all available resources related to Belum-Temengor would be fully and optimally utilised for more effective governance of the rainforest as well as going a long way in assisting the Royal Belum State Park to achieve the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The final area touches on the importance of youth as key players in the conservation movement. This area pushes for more awareness amongst youths in Malaysia about the issues faced by rainforest conservationists and urges them to get involved in the conservation effort through
participation in conservation activities at the community, state and national levels.

“A lot of thought and discussion with local and international experts went into the development of the Blueprint. Although there are many issues of concern, we have intentionally kept the Blueprint narrow and distilled it down to four vital points. The actions are clear and everyone
involved knows what to do. In its first instalment the Blueprint is naturally very much focused on Malaysia but we hope that in years to come it will grow into an international blueprint, inspiring other rainforest regions,” said Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Mohamad, chairman of the Pulau Banding Foundation.

Mobilising the Voices of Youth

The youth leaders present their wishlist to be submitted to the UNEP conference in Bangkok.

The youth leaders present their wishlist to be submitted to the UNEP conference in Bangkok.

The fact that Pulau Banding Foundation is serious about its intention to mobilise the youth for rainforest conservation is highlighted by a parallel youth summit titled ‘Green Rangers Malaysia – Voices of Youth’, held from 20 – 22 October at the Belum Adventure Camp on Pulau Banding.

On the final day of BRainS 2016, the young participants of Voices of Youth submitted a wish list of what they want to see carried out for rainforest conservation to the main panel of BRainS 2016. The list is slated to be handed over to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the upcoming UNEP conference in Bangkok.

Some of wishes include stricter enforcement of laws protecting wildlife and the declaration of
Royal Belum State Park as a UNESCO World heritage Site. In addition, each youth participant also made a personal pledge to raise awareness of Belum-Temengor, reduce his or her carbon footprint and engage in more sustainable activities such as recycling.

“The youths of today have a very important role to play in conservation and we need these future leaders and innovators to understand that role. The Green Rangers will continue to reach out to
youths because we want to spread the message of conservation as far and wide as possible among the young generation.

One of the points indicated in the Blueprint is the establishment of Green Ranger clubs or other similar organisations in all the schools of Malaysia and we aim to achieve that within a year,” stressed Ahmad Khalif.

BRainS 2016 was organised by the Pulau Banding Foundation in collaboration with their local and international partners including the Malaysian Nature Society, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), BirdLife International, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO). Participants and speakers hailed from more than 10 countries including Nepal, England, Canada, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Costa Rica and Ghana.

The Voices of Youth Wishlist:

We the youth, COMMIT to raise public awareness on laws that protect our forests and to report any wildlife trafficking activities. We Commit to educating the public on the the unsustainability of palm oil plantations and hope that clearing of land for this industry is reduced and stop. We commit to use our resources wisely. We commit to practice the buying of second hand books and to donate books after use to reduce the usage and wastage of paper, which affects our forest resources. To raise more awareness on the Belum-Temengor forests, we commit to creating programs and activities in our communities that aim to educate our friends, family and school. At the same time, we also will share our own experiences in Belum with them. We also will commit to stop buying products made from wild animal parts to reduce the demand for poaching; which threatens our forests and its wildlife. Through social media, we will spread information on Belum-Temengor to a wider public.

We CHALLENGE the governments to implement reforestation to replace our logged forest habitats. We also challenge them to block access points for poaching activities. More opportunity should be given for students and youth across the country to visit and learn about the flora and fauna of the Belum forests as well as the threats it faces from poaching and logging. We Challenge the Pulau Banding Foundation to organize yearly school visits to Belum. We also wish for Temengor to be gazetted and be provided with more rangers to patrol the forest area and borders. We Challenge the government to make Belum-Temengor a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We challenge the state and federal government to enforce existing laws on forest protection.

This is our voice. Please Hear Us.

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