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Sabah Parks to empower native communities living in protected rainforests

Teo (third right) and Naoya (second left) together with delegates at the workshop

19th April, 2017


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Parks aims to empower native communities living in protected rainforests to manage their natural resources sustainably while protecting the connecting Sabah’s biodiverse landscapes between the Mount Kinabalu World Heritage and the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve.

“This strategy is part of the initiative in forming community-conserved protected zones by integrating biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources throughout the Indigenous Community Conservation Areas (ICCA) under Sabah Park’s Kinabalu Ecolinc project,“ said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman.

The plan is to establish ecological linkages connecting the two national parks which are currently separated by state land as well as adopting ICCA approach to protect the forested areas while ensuring that local communities retain the rights to their bio-cultural values and enhance their livelihoods.

Speaking at the officiating ceremony of the 2nd Satoyama Initiativen Regional Workshop on Tuesday, Musa underlined the state government places a high emphasis to ensuring socioeconomic activities adhere to sustainable practices in the use of natural resources.

“Advancing the bio-cultural concept in managing natural resources is one of our strategies under the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022,”he said.

Among those who witnessed the officiating ceremony of the Satoyama Initiative Regional Workshop, include programme director Naoya Tsukamoto, IPSI Secretariat at the UNU-IAS, among others.

The workshop, hosted by the United Nations University for Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), the Secretariat of International Partnership for Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) gathers local and international researchers to discuss strategies on mainstreaming the Satoyama concept of ‘living in harmony with the environment’.

Musa said the theme of the workshop, ”Mainstreaming Concepts and Approaches of Socio Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes in Asia” is an fitting topic and expressed hope expressed hope that participants can exchange views with their international counterparts on applying the Satoyama concepts locally.

The text of his speech was delivered by Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais presented his case study on the developments of the Indigenous Community Conservation (ICCA), noting the organisation through its Kinabalu Ecolinc project has been engaging native communities to manage their forests for the purpose of conservation and sustainable use of forest resources.

“We provide assistance through capacity building to the indigenous peoples living in villages within protected rainforests and reserves which are designated as ICCA,” he said, adding that the land still belonged to the people.

Dr Jamili said Sabah Parks also provide its expertise and insight to local communities to manage and maintain their land, resulting in the protection of ecologically important rainforests while bringing various economic benefits for the natives.

“We help in providing the installation of basic amenities such as water sources via gravity feed, as well as developing sustainable economic potential for native communities such as bringing tourists to enjoy their village’s natural attractions,” he added.

Additionally, Dr Jamili said joint collaboration efforts with Sabah parks also succeeded in helping indigenous communities in practicing sustainable agriculture as well as producing native craft.

Meanwhile, Godfrey Kissey, deputy director 1 of the Department of Fisheries said Sabah’s unique Tagal system demonstrated the success of native communities in managing and conserving natural resources.

“We lend our expertise, consultation and support for local communities to develop the Tagal system in their own villages,” he said.

According to Godfrey, the Tagal, an age-old Kadazandusun Murut custom, has grown into a tourism product and contributed to a more efficient environmental management, economic and social development of the community.

“A total of 531 villages involving 221 rivers have joined the Tagal system which has become among the important tourism products of Sabah,” he said.

The fifth edition of the Regional Workship hosted in Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu which was organised by IPSI at the UNU-IAS together with the Sabah government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA-SDBEC), features local and international keynote speakers and attended by 200 participants from 15 counties, as well as delegates from the United Nations.

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