30th October, 2008
KOTA KINABALU: The Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands has been officially designated as Sabah’s first and Malaysia’s largest Ramsar site.
This declaration was made at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar COP10) in Changwon, Korea on Tuesday.
It not only names the 6th Ramsar site in Malaysia, but also makes the area Sabah’s first Ramsar site as well as Malaysia’s largest, extending over 78,803 hectares of mangrove forests and peat swamp on the east coast.
Dr. Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention presented the official certificate to Abdul Fatah Amir, director of the Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SBC) at the Ramsar COP 10.
The site comprises three contiguous forest reserves namely Trusan Kinabatangan Forest Reserve (40,471 ha), Kulamba Wildlife Reserve (20,682 ha), and Kuala Maruap and Kuala Segama Forest Reserve (17,650 ha).
This entire area is even larger than the total area of previously designated Ramsar sites – five in all – in Malaysia (55,355 hectares).
The SBC, which was established under the Sabah Biodiversity Council in May this year as stipulated in the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000, played a pivotal role in the application process to mobilise and coordinate a number of agencies including the Forestry Department (the custodian of the site), Wildlife Department, Land and Survey Department, Fisheries Department, Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Natural Resources Office, Science and Technology Unit, Economic Planning Unit, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
The site was recognised as an internationally important wetland for its representation of coastal mangrove forest and rare peat swamp forest inhabited by a number of endangered and threatened species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, proboscis monkey, tembadau, Borneo pygmy elephant, and Storm’s stork.
The site was also recognised as ecologically important to provide important spawning and nursery grounds for fish and prawns.
The Bornean Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Programme Phase II (BBEC II), supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), initiated the establishment of this Ramsar site early this year and would continue its support in the preparation of a management plan for the site.
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands.
Malaysia ratified the Convention on on March 10, 1995 and its national focal point agency is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The other 5 Ramsar sites in Malaysia are the Kuching Wetlands National Park (Sarawak), Pulau Kukup (Johor), Sungai Pulai (Johor), Tanjung Piai (Johor), and Tasek Bera (Pahang).