BALI: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have entered into a historic agreement to conserve a 22 million-hectare forest area in Borneo.
The signing ceremony of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Declaration here was hailed as a momentous move and it is the first time ever that an agreement was made between nations to protect an area so huge.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, who represented Malaysia, said: “This initiative will see about 31% of the island of Borneo being marked for protection.
“The next step will be a series of discussions at the national and regional levels to formulate project documents to discuss how to go about protecting this area.”
Azmi said the forests of Borneo, which is the world’s third largest island, housed the most diverse and populous number of plants and animals.
When asked if this meant that logging would be completely barred in such areas, Azmi said discussions had not reached such details yet.
“The HoB project needs political will together with the help of the private sector to make it work.”
Azmi said the initiative could spawn extra training grounds for environmental management and could also increase social activities such as outdoor recreation.
“Another benefit is that this could develop the ecotourism, ethnotourism and adventure tourism markets.
“The protection of these forests would also mean fewer trees would be burned openly which could reduce haze,” he added.
Representing Indonesia was Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban.
Brunei’s Industry and Primary Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Awang Ahmad Jumat said this project was important for his country because unlike Indonesia or Malaysia, Brunei was located in Borneo in its entirety.
The HoB project was initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2005.
Source : STAR
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