CM: S’wak will not sacrifice environment in pursuit of devt

Posted on : 02 Jul 2018  Source of News: The Borneo Post Online

Abang Johari strums the sape to symbolically launch ATBC conference witnessed by (from left) Chazon, Malhi, Mohd Azlan, Campos-Arceiz and Wan Lizosman. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: The Sarawak government recognises the importance of protecting, preserving and conserving the environment even as it tries to industrialise the state’s economy.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the government has formulated various policies and legislations to sustainably manage and conserve Sarawak’s forests and wildlife to ensure that economic developments in the state conform to the globally accepted principle of sustainable development.

“Sustainable development is a delicate balance between the need for economic growth, social progress, political stability and preservation of the environment.

“For this reason, the state government has formulated the Land Use Policy to manage our land use in order to achieve development that is sustainable,” he said at the opening ceremony of the 55th Annual Conference of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) held here yesterday.

With Sarawak’s land mass of 12.4 million hectares of which 64 per cent is still under forest cover, Abang Johari stressed the state has a very clear land use policy which takes into consideration all aspects of economic development, social wellbeing and environmental balance and integrity.

“This policy includes three main sectors namely forestry, agriculture and other land uses,” he said while noting that for forestry, the government has targeted six million hectares of land as permanent forest estates and one million hectares as totally protected areas.

He also gave his assurance that the Sarawak government manages its forest based on the principles of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).

“We invited the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) in 1968 and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) in 1989 to undertake a study of sustainable forest management in Sarawak and recommend to us how to manage our forest effectively.

“The findings covered a wide spectrum of subjects on sustainable timber yield, sustainable catchment management, biological diversity and economic sustainability.”

He added that all of these recommendations have been complied with and implemented by the relevant state agencies and industries.

Apart from that, he also pointed out that the state has always welcomed international collaboration to carry out research and conservation works in Sarawak’s forests.

“We have strategic partnership with various countries such as Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, USA, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Asean countries, the Middle East and others.

“We also have scientific collaborations with international bodies such as ITTO, FAO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and so on to promote greater cooperation and sharing of scientific information,” he remarked.

Later at a press conference, Abang Johari expressed his appreciation to ATBC for organising their first conference in the country which will no doubt allow for professionals such as biologists and conservationists to discuss on issues pertaining to conservation and environment.

“This is an issue that is being discussed worldwide and during the conference, I’m sure the professionals will recommend certain approaches for us to conserve whatever assets we have for the future generation.”

Themed ‘Linking Natural History with the Conservation of Tomorrow’s Tropical Ecosystems’, the ATBC conference will see the presentation of over 550 oral presentations and 120 posters as well as a number of keynote addresses and panel discussions about tropical issues of high local, regional and global relevance.

Nearly 850 tropical biologists and conservationists from over 60 countries, including nearly 200 Malaysian professionals and students, will be attending the five-day international conference.

Also present were ATBC executive director Prof Robin Chazdon, ATBC president Prof Yadvinder Malhi, ATBC conference 2018 chairman Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, co-chairman Dr Mohd Azlan Jayasilan and Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources permanent secretary Dr Wan Lizosman Wan Omar.