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 Local

KK WETLANDS TO BE SEVENTH RAMSAR SITE

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Wan Junaidi (2nd left) and Masidi (centre) showing the book - “A Guide to the Plants of Kota Kinabalu Wetlands” published by the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society and funded by Kinsabina Group.

28th February, 2016

By CLEOPHAS JOHN GORDON

KOTA KINABALU: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar yesterday disclosed that the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands will be declared the seventh Ramsar site in the country.

“There are currently six Ramsar sites in the country namely Tasik Bera, Pahang; Tanjung Piai, Pulau Kukup and Sungai Pulai, Johor; Kuching Wetland National Park, Sarawak; and Lower Kinabatangan – Segama Wetlands, Sabah.

“There are also a few criteria which wetlands must fulfil, for example a diverse biodiversity as well as functional role the wetlands play as a breeding ground for waterbirds before they can be declared as a Ramsar site

“The Kota Kinabalu Wetlands have already fulfilled these criteria,” Wan Junaidi told reporters after launching the national level World Wetlands Day 2016 in conjunction with the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention of 1971 at the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands here.

He added that the Ramsar Convention was an inter-governmental treaty that provided an action plan at the international level for the conservation and use of wetlands.

Today, there are 169 member countries of the Ramsar Convention including Malaysia and a total of 2,227 wetland areas covering 214, 875, 598 hectares worldwide had been declared as Ramsar sites.

Wan Junaidi also said the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society (SWCS) had asked the federal government to declare Kota Kinabalu Wetlands as a Ramsar site.

“All we need to do now is to nominate and declare it as a Ramsar site,” he explained.

He said unlike Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, most wetlands and Ramsar sites were outside the city.

And, he said that making Kota Kinabalu Wetlands a Ramsar site was important for flora and fauna conservation.

Wan Junaidi also urged all state governments to preserve their mangrove swamps and wetlands.

“The wetlands naturally will have more flora and fauna and I hope the state governments would cooperate in this conservation endeavour,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the federal government has an obligation under the United Nations Conference of Climate Change COP 21 to conserve the forests.

“In addition to the COP 21, we are also obliged to preserve and conserve the environment according to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that we have signed.

“We could be brought to a tribunal if we do not look after the environment,” he said.

Wan Junaidi also praised the Sabah state government’s efforts in promoting the forests for eco-tourism.

Apart from generating revenue from eco-tourism, he said such efforts were contributing significantly to forest consesrvation.

He said the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands was a good example of forests being used for eco-tourism.

“It is just 15 minutes away from the city centre and tourists can come here easily,” he added.

Earlier in his speech, Wan Junaidi said that the federal government had allocated RM75.07 million under the 11th Malaysia Plan to implement the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in Sabah and Sarawak.

Of the amount, more than RM41 million was allocated for Sabah, he said.

He also said under the same plan, the federal government also allocated RM5.8 million for the state Wildlife Department for 2016 to conduct research on endangered wildlife in Sabah.

And during the launch yesterday, he also announced an allocation of RM750,000 to upgrade the fence and boardwalks at the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, in addition to the RM500,000 announced by Tourism, Culture and Enviroment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Also present were Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s deputy secretary-general (environment management) Datuk Seri Dr Azumuddin Bahari, president of Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa, Sabah Parks chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood and Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya.

   
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