KUCHING: Another 20 protected areas will be created here in a bid to reverse habitat degradation, and the state is mulling over a proposal to arm more environmental agencies.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said he planned to increase the number of national parks, nature reserves and animal sanctuaries in the state.
“We must remember that while Sarawak belongs to us, it also belongs to the monkeys, the rusa (deer)... they have been here much longer than we have,” he said.
“They have no members in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly. They can’t speak for themselves, so human beings must speak for them, okay?”
The authorities had in the past underestimated the scale of illegal logging, he said at the sixth biennial Chief Minister’s Environmental Award ceremony here on Monday.
The state currently has 30 national parks, six wildlife sanctuaries and eight nature reserves, according to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation.
These encompass about 593,000ha of land (not including 206,000ha of protected bodies of water) in a state that is 12.4 million hectares in size.
It is possible that some of the new areas to be protected will be extensions to existing ones such as the Kubah National Park, where an adjoining section was damaged by illegal logging recently.
The last time a national park was extended was in May last year at Pulong Tau, near Miri, while the latest national park was Sampadi, gazetted in December 2010.
Adenan said the state government was also considering a proposal by the Natural Resources and Environment Board to provide its personnel with firearms.
Sarawak recently approved the arming of 50 Forest Department officers.
“If it is effective, why not so that we can have better enforcement?” he said.
He said Malaysians had seen more than enough environmental destruction to know that the country had a poor reputation for protecting its natural habitats.
He cited last month’s deadly Cameron Highlands landslide and 2010’s Rejang River logjam as some examples.
He said the youth tend to care more about the environment but often feel powerless to effect change.
“Some might say, what can I do? I can only do small things. Well, we can do our own little bit, start our own small ripple, and then this will turn into a wave,” he said.