17 mln turtle hatchlings released to sea – Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: The RM1 million allocation for turtle conservation under the State Budget 2018 reflects the State Government’s seriousness in conservation efforts, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.Masidi said an estimated 17 million turtle hatchlings have been released to the sea since the government became involved in turtle conservation.

He said this at a press conference after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and Sabah Parks Board of Trustees yesterday.

Masidi said the signing of the MoU will enable Sabah Parks to receive continuous guidance in its publications from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, besides enhancing the cooperation between the two bodies in terms of the quality and types of books produced.

He said the cooperation between DBP and Sabah Parks have been established since 2004. To date, eight books authored by Sabah Parks staff have been published under the guidance of DBP.

The two bodies are also in the process of producing an encyclopedia on Sabah Parks that will enlighten readers on the biodiversity, conservation efforts and uniqueness in all the parks.

Masidi hoped that the natural treasures under Sabah Parks could be shared with Malaysians and even the international community through the publication of such books.

He said Sabah Parks was among the most successful government agencies not only in book publications, but also in terms of efforts to expand its activities on land and sea.

Sabah Parks is actively expanding the scope of marine parks to be gazetted, the latest being the Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat which is the largest marine park in Malaysia with an area close to one million hectares.

To date, Masidi said seven percent of the seas in Sabah, equivalent to two million hectares, have been gazetted as marine parks.

“Our goal is to increase (marine parks) to 10 percent as recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” Masidi said.

All these efforts were undertaken to achieve balance in progress and environmental conservation, he explained.

“This is clearly reflected in the (State) Budget 2018 by the Chief Minister, that we want conservation efforts and physical development to be carried out in parallel. Meaning to say that we can be a progressive state but also maintains the beauty and wonder of the environment in Sabah,” Masidi said.

The MoU was signed between Sabah Parks Board of Trustees chairman Datuk Seri Dr Tengku Zainal Adlin Bin Tengku Mahamood and DBP deputy director-general (policy) Datuk Haji Abang Sallehuddin bin Abg Shokeran.

Also present were Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministers Datuk Pang Yuk Ming and Datuk Kamarlin Ombi, and Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais.


Source: Borneo Post

Beautiful Sabah 3.0 contest attracts int’l participants

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board’s Beautiful Sabah 3.0 online photography and video contest, ended on October 8 and attracted participation from eleven countries through social media.

The countries were Australia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Philippines, UK and Malaysia.

This is the third edition of the contest and has the most submissions from overseas.

A total of 800 photographs and 15 videos were submitted during the two-month online contest.

“The participation from most (of the) international countries is through the power of social media. Through social media, every post shared can lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of Sabah Tourism Board at the prize presentation ceremony, yesterday.

Winners of the competition were presented with their prizes yesterday at Sabah Tourism Board by Joniston, who urged the participants to use their talents and skills to keep promoting Sabah through their lenses and video making skills.

Also present at the event were general manager of Sabah Tourism Board Gordon Yapp, deputy general manager (support services) Noredah Othman and communications manager Hana S. Harun

The top five winners of the photography competition were Tsen Lip Kai, Rustam Razali, Clement Liew, Tirado Jupirin and Mohd Erwin Mohd Ussdek, and the top five winners of the video competition were Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong, Leon Kuan, Danny Daniel Nguai, Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong and Ivan Ong Jian Hau.

The Beautiful Sabah 3.0 sponsorship, worth about RM15,000 were from the private sector, namely the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort,  Sutera Harbour Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Grandis Hotel and Resorts, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Techfix, Canon Marketing (Malaysia), Syarikat Percetakan Suria, Toppoint Company Sdn Bhd, Ebiz Design & Communications, and Videographics Productions Sdn Bhd.


Source: Borneo Post

Heart of Borneo to be promoted as world class ecotourism destination

KOTA KINABALU: The next phase for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in Sabah will be to promote HoB as world class ecotourism destination.

Sabah’s Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Sector Planning), Frederick Kugan, said a total of 37 ecotourism sites have been identified, including nine community-based tourism sites.

He said the move was important to create economy for the community and tapping into the tourism sector to support conservation efforts in the State.

“This is done through the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) conservation finance strategy,” Frederick said in his presentation at the International Conference on HoB here yesterday.

The two-day event, themed ‘A Decade of HoB Initiative: Accomplishments and the Way Forward’, began yesterday at Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort here.

For the past 10 years, Frederick said the Sabah Forestry Department had been focusing on the maintenance of forest connectivity through strengthening of the protected areas network, and establishment of sustainably managed forest corridors connecting these areas.

“Sabah can be proud that we have achieved greatly in terms of increasing Total Protected Areas (TPAs) by 1 million hectares to 1.9 million hectares from 2007 to 2017.”

He said the initiative had also garnered support from partners to the tune of RM100 million through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

He said the HoB project had received RM38 million funding from the Federal Government thus far, while there was still RM27.5 million remaining from the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

Frederick said the next phase of HoB in Sabah would be to look at how to achieve the target of gazetting the remaining four per cent, or 300,000 hectares as TPAs by 2025.

“It can come from forest reserves, state lands and maybe from existing titles or communities.”

He said the Sabah Forestry Department would be engaging with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to identify critical areas important for protection and areas good for rehabilitation or restoration.

He said the Sabah’s land use in the future might also evolve over time.

Frederick said this might lead to land swap to better enhance protected areas and to retain at least 50 per cent forest cover in the State.

“With all the conservation measures undertaken in Sabah, we believe that there will be at least no net loss or net gain in terms of biodiversity in the State.”

He added that the HoB initiative in Sabah would also be consolidating forest management enterprise (FME) initiative and targeting key sectors in sustainable resource management.

Under the Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (JCSPO) 2025 initiative, there is a first five-year work plan to identify high conservation value forests, address Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and catalogue smallholders within the palm oil sectors.

Frederick also stressed the need to expand the influence of HoB and linking up the various conservation efforts in the State such as the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, Klias Peninsular Wetlands, Kinabatangan Corridor of Life, LSKW Ramsar Site and Coral Triangle Initiative Project.

On the other hand, Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh shared how the idea of HoB came about in his keynote address.

He said it all started at a WWF Asia-Pacific CEOs meeting in Phuket, Thailand in October 2000.

“The idea was to connect up a big enough area to conserve a really representative chunk of Borneo’s rainforest in perpetuity.”

He said WWF Malaysia was then asked to lead the development of the ‘Borneo Forest Initiative’, the first priorities being to secure funding and develop the concept.

“We established small teams in the Malaysia and Indonesian WWF offices. One of my jobs was to get start-up fund.”

Kavanagh said the Malaysian and Indonesian teams quickly got down to working together.

During the first meeting in Singapore, he said WWF Indonesia corrected a conceptual mistake, that there was too much focus on the protected areas and not the overall context.

“We broadened our focus towards sustainability in the surrounding landscape.”

Meanwhile, Kavanagh said support was growing slowly in the WWF network until, at the suggestion of WWF United States, the Borneo Forest Initiative was rebranded as The Heart of Borneo, or HoB.

He said WWF Indonesia then initiated a workshop at Putussibau in West Kalimantan, hosted by the regency government.

“First and foremost, there are three countries on Borneo. What about Brunei?”

In this respect, Kavanagh said three people, namely the Brunei High Commissioner in London, Dato’ Yussof Hamid, WWF Diplomatic Advisor Guilda Navidi-Walker and WWF United Kingdom Conservation Director Francis Sullivan took their own initiative to get Brunei on board.

Later, Stuart Chapman joined the team as the HoB International Coordinator based in Jakarta.

“At this point, the team put a lot of effort into convincing allies and decision-makers on the various values of HoB.”

He said the pace really picked up from the beginning of 2005.

This led to the HoB workshop in Brunei held in April 2005 with government representatives from the three countries, WWF, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and scientists, where they drew up a vision statement.

The vision for the HoB is that partnerships at all levels ensure effective management and conservation of a network of protected areas, productive forests and other sustainable land uses. Borneo’s magnificent heritage is thereby sustained forever.

“The leaders for the governments’ teams at the April 2005 workshop were united in conveying their governments’ support for the initiative.”

Thanks to former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi, Kavanagh said the ASEAN heads of government accepted the importance of conserving the forests and other natural resources of the HoB at their summit in Kuala Lumpur, December 2005.

HoB was accepted as a flagship programme of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) at the same summit.

On February 12, 2007, the ministers responsible for forestry in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia signed the landmark declaration on the HoB Initiative in Bali.

Kavanagh arrived in Malaysia in 1978 to coordinate the Malaysian Primates Research Programme for Cambridge University with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

He then spent 25 years with WWF Malaysia, starting with assisting Sarawak Forest Department to establish new protected areas, and later 16 years as national CEO through 2006.

In 2000, Kavanagh proposed that WWF explored the idea of creating transboundary protected areas along the Indonesia/Malaysia border, with Brunei joining in later that eventually became HoB.

Source : Borneo Post

Conference on Heart of Borneo a platform for biodiversity experts

KOTA KINABALU: The 9th International Conference on Heart of Borneo (HoB) to be held here will serve as sharing platform among biodiversity experts.

In a statement, Sabah Forestry Department said this year marked 10th year of HoB’s initiatives.

The initiative is a programme formed through a joint declaration between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2007 to spur conservation efforts promoting a network of protected areas, sustainable management of forests and land uses.

“The conference will re-assess major activities that are critical to HoB and the responsibilities of stakeholders by key sectors.

“It is also to streamline and coordinate actions towards realising the HoB initiative.”

During the programme, there will be a keynote address from conservation leaders and a plenary session on “The Accomplishments of a Decade-Transboundary Management”.

The two-day programme, which begins tomorrow, will be launched by Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

About 900 participants from various sectors locally and internationally, including students from higher learning institutions, had been invited for the programme.

Forty-two speakers are expected to give their speeches at the conference.

There will also be a signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding between the state government, represented by Sabah Forestry Department, and various parties.

Source : New Straits Times

Borneo Bird Festival starts in KK

SANDAKAN: The Borneo Bird Festival, a celebration of the magnificent birds of Borneo, is making its return this year with more exciting programmes.

The celebration aims to create public awareness of bird conservation efforts, to promote bird watching and encourage eco-tourism activities.

This year marks the 9th edition of this annual festival which will be held, for the first time, in Kota Kinabalu from today, October 20 to 22, this year.

Among the highlights of the three-day programmes are the Nature & Wildlife Talks, Booth Exhibits and showcase of Birding Equipment at the Imago Mall, from 10am to 10pm, today to Sunday.

In addition, Photography Contests, Guided Birding Walks at Tanjung Aru Park, as well as the much-anticipated Sabah Bird Race at the Crocker Range Park will also be held over the weekend.

Over the past eight years, Borneo Bird Festival has been successful at fostering greater awareness of nature and conservation efforts.

It had created bonds among participants, both local and international. The festival is a great platform for the gathering of nature enthusiasts and provides a great opportunity to reach out and interact with the community.

The Borneo Bird Festival was first created back in 2009 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sandakan. It aims not only to showcase Sabah as a premier bird destination in this region, but more importantly, it serves as a platform to create a further sense of appreciation for the birds of Borneo and ultimately, lead to the conservation of nature and preservation of its environment.

The festival organisers hoped that the local community in the west coast would take full advantage of this chance to participate in this colourful festival and attend talks and presentations by various invited guest speakers, as admission to the festival at Imago is free.

The Borneo Bird Festival is organised by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club and supported by Sabah Parks, Sabah Tourism Board, Tourism Malaysia and Sabah Wildlife Department.

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Source : The Borneo Post