Malaysia’s conservation efforts continue to ensure our country’s rapid progression to high-income status occurs in conjunction with some of the most ambitious commitments to biodiversity. Our country’s achievements include the recently announced establishment of the 22,000 Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary in the district of Kinabatangan with support from the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF), as well as the planned expansion of totally protected areas in Sarawak over the next eight years.
Now Sabah has announced the re-classification of two pristine forests, the Maliau Basin and Danum Valley, from production forests to totally protected zones, ensuring the complete preservation of these centers of biodiversity. Legislation passed by the state assembly has now placed absolute protection on these two forests which cover 101,000 ha.
When proposing the legislation, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Radin Malleh noted that Segama was a vital water catchment area and a buffer zone for Danum Valley as well as a critical habitat for the orang utan.
The same legislation also approved the conversion of 7,024ha of forest into state land. However, as a further demonstration of Sabah’s (and Malaysia’s) prioritisation of wildlife preservation, the legislation also identified 9,544 ha of new forest land to replace the land to be developed.
Western Environmental NGO (WENGO) campaigns against Malaysia’s development attack the country’s agriculture expansion, ignoring the benefits this has afforded to rural communities, smallholders and Malaysia’s overall economic well-being. But most egregiously, WENGOs cannot be found when Malaysia undertakes expansive conservation efforts.
Nevertheless, Malaysia will continue to ensure that sustainable development occurs in parallel to environmental conservation. This is the model our country has championed around the world, and will ensure Malaysia’s environmental wealth is retained for the world’s future generations.