SPEECH BY Y.A.B. TAN SRI DATUK SERI PANGLIMA MUSA HAJI AMAN CHIEF MINISTER OF SABAH, AT LAUNCHING OF THE KOTA KINABALU WETLAND RAMSAR SITE, AT KOTA KINABALU WETLANDS, OFF JALAN BUKIT BENDERA UPPER, LIKAS, KOTA KINABALU, ON 21st SEPTEMBER 2017
I wish to congratulate the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society for your continuous efforts and hard work that has brought us to witness Kota Kinabalu Wetlands being designated as the newest Ramsar site in Malaysia. This is the second Ramsar site in Sabah after the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands which was awarded the status in 2008. In total, there are now seven Ramsar sites in Malaysia and Sabah has the honour of hosting two of these sites.
For and on behalf of the State Government, I would like to record the state’s appreciation to SWCS for your admirable efforts at raising the bar in creating awareness and appreciation of wetlands. This international recognition helps in enhancing the conservation efforts of the last remaining patch of mangrove forest in Kota Kinabalu city, which is developing at a fast pace. Well done and keep up the good work!
The Sabah State Government is committed in pursuing sustainable development. In our plans and policies, we always strive to factor in the need to protect vital ecosystems and with that, we work towards ensuring that our natural capitals such as mangroves continue to provide us with ecosystem services such as protecting coastlines from wave action. Mangroves also provide shelter for plants and animals, and are vital for fisheries.
Any conservation efforts that protect our invaluable natural heritage are viewed as vital and will be given utmost attention. Unquestionably, wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Many wetlands have been significantly destroyed in order to make way for development. The effort to protect this natural heritage whilst pursuing economic success is part of striking a balance that would benefit all. Through our existing development and sustainability policies and regulations, Sabah is seeing growth and is also able to lead and set an example for the country in terms of biodiversity conservation.
The Sabah Government via the Sabah Forestry Department is committed to not only protecting the remaining mangroves and forests, but also in properly managing and rehabilitating areas that have been degraded for various reasons, including encroachment and fires. Through mangrove management, efforts are made to conserve coastal areas, buffer zones are established, coastal area habitats are restored and the quality of the environment as well as its esthetical values are enhanced.
The management and restoration of mangroves are given priority as Sabah has about 338,000 hectares of mangrove vegetation within its forest reserves. Sabah is home to some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s total mangroves – this is significant and we have a responsibility in ensuring that these areas are protected. Our commitment is clear as Sabah has even protected Kota Kinabalu Wetlands despite it being within the city centre. Sabah is also continuously increasing Totally Protected Areas apart from keeping its sustainable forest management practices on track at commercial forest reserves. Areas with high conservation values within commercial forest reserves are mapped out and not disturbed. These are just some of the safeguards that we have put in place.
I wish to once again commend the SWCS for its vision in wetlands conservation; with the support of the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, other relevant government agencies and stakeholders that include Malaysian and international partners. Such collaborations are commendable as these are environmentally driven, as well as involve local participation and community development.
I wish SWCS every success in its efforts as they continue to work collaboratively to protect these wetlands by carrying out on-the-ground programmes, forming a working network among wetland conservation agencies in Sabah and Malaysia, and pushing for another international recognition of Kota Kinabalu Wetlands to secure its continued role as a model environmental educational centre. Thank you.