World Wetlands Day 2005 -- Malaysia

28/04/2005

Saturday April 23, 2005

Making sure nature is protected

KUCHING: The Kuching Wetlands National Park is part of the state government's effort to strike a balance between conservation and development, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said.

He said the state's policy had always been to balance development and the need to preserve the environment.

"Our natural resources must be exploited in ways that are sustainable. For example, in accordance with the recommendation of the International Tropical Timber Organisation, we harvest no more than 9.25mil cubic metres of logs a year from our permanent forests.

"This is equivalent to seven trees per hectare," he said while launching the park in conjunction with National Wetlands Day at the fishing village of Telaga Air near here yesterday.

Taib also said the state government, with the assistance of the Federal Government and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), would propose that the Kuching Wetlands National Park be listed as a Ramsar site, or a wetlands area of international importance.

ENVIRONMENTALLY CONCIOUS: Aziz and Kristoffersen exchanging the signed MoU documents witnessed by (second from left) Taib, Adenan and Dr Isahak.

If the proposal is approved, the park, which covers an area of 6,610ha on the estuarine reaches of Sungai Sibu Laut opposite Telaga Air, will be the fifth Ramsar site in the country and the first in Sarawak.

The existing Ramsar sites in Malaysia are Tasik Bera in Pahang and Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjung Piai in Johor.

In order to be listed as a Ramsar site, the park must fulfil certain criteria, including supporting vulnerable or endangered species as well as plant and animal species important for maintaining the biodiversity of a region and supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds and a signification population of fish.

Taib later received a cheque for RM1mil from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry for preparing the proposal to be submitted to the Ramsar committee.

In addition, the Federal and state governments as well as Danida signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on conducting scientific studies at the Kuching Wetlands National Park.

The MoU was signed by Natural Resources and Environment Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Isahak Yeop Mohd Shar, state secretary Datuk Abdul Aziz Husain and the Danish Embassy's environment councillor Soren Kristoffersen, and witnessed by Taib and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Adenan Satem.


Friday April 22, 2005

Sarawak to launch Kuching Wetlands

BY TEOH TEIK HOONG and FLORENCE A. SAMY

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak will launch its Kuching Wetlands National Park today and declare its intent to propose the area as the first Ramsar site in the state.

The Ramsar Convention is the first of the modern global intergovernmental treaties on the conservation and wise use of natural wetlands primarily to provide habitats for water birds.

If the proposal is accepted, the park will join the ranks of four other wetlands sites in the peninsular - Tasik Bera in Pahang, and Tanjung Piai, Pulau Kukup and Sungai Pulai in Johor.

The park, spanning an area of 6,610ha and located in the estuarine reaches of Sungai Sibu Laut, will be officially launched by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is expected to announce the bid to have it listed as a Ramsar site.

The Ramsar international convention on wetlands was adopted on Feb 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.

According to the Ramsar website at www.ramsar.org, there are at present 145 contracting parties to the Convention.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry director of conservation and management of natural resources Datin Huzaimah Mohd Yusof said the ministry had given RM1mil to the state government to develop a management plan for the park.

"We will provide all the assistance for this initiative and are confident that it will be accepted as a Ramsar site," she told The Star.

Huzaimah said the mangrove area in the national park, was relatively intact and had six mangrove species growing in it.

"The area is home to many endangered primates like the proboscis monkey and silver langur. It also has many mammals, birds, monitor lizards and estuarine crocodiles.

"There's a huge potential for tourism here," she added.

The national park is a gazetted mangrove forest reserve.

Meanwhile, Wetlands International Malaysia director Dr Sundari Ramakrishna said it would be a step forward to have the Kuching Wetlands National Park as a Ramsar site, but efforts must be made to create a buffer zone to protect the area.

"There needs to be a buffer zone of at least 50m around the park so that any future development or oil palm plantations near the park won't affect its ecology and biodiversity.

"There also needs to be proper and sustainable management of the area as it is rich in a flora and fauna, including hornbills," she said yesterday.

She said it was important to preserve the multi-functional mangrove forests as it not only acted as a nursing and fishing ground, but also protected coastlines from erosion and possible tsunamis.

"There's wealth in wetland diversity
- don't lose it!"

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,181 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,545,658

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