KOTA KINABALU: An international conservation initiative in Borneo is taking shape with the preservation of habitats for elephants being among the top priorities.
WWF Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said among the priority areas of the Heart of Borneo (HOB) initiative was the setting aside of an elephant landscape stretching from south of Sabah to North Kalimantan.
“Our work is to develop a comprehensive elephant conservation plan that includes setting aside wildlife corridors that link protected forests, conservation areas and riparian zones,” he said after the 10th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting – HoB Partners Dialogue in Brunei.
“The areas in question also include important browsing grounds through forest management areas and plantations,” said Dionysius, the WWF Heart of Borneo programme chairman.
He said the elephant landscape was among three of the six priority areas located along international borders and form a main part of the HoB Corridor Project Implementation.
Another priority was the conservation of the landscape for the headwaters of key rivers in Sabah, Sarawak and North Kalimantan.
The preservation of these headwaters would pave the way for well managed forests linking Brunei’s Sungai Ingei Conservation Forest and Ulu Temburong National Park; to Sarawak’s Gunung Mulu, Gunung Buda and Pulong Pau National Parks; and onwards to Sabah’s Crocker Range National Park as well as to North Kalimantan’s Kayan Mentarang National Park.
The third priority area would connect Sarawak to West Kalimantan by incorporating orang utan conservation into sustainable development as the basis for connectivity.
This transboundary project provides the orangutan connectivity for the Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Sarawak with that of Betung Kerihun and Danau Sentarum National Parks in West Kalimantan.
Earlier at the meeting, Dionysius said companies operating in the HoB area should be encouraged to support the initiative.
“The key is to bring to the table issues of mutual concern and benefit to the governments and stakeholders. For corporations and businesses, you could consider environmental conservation as part of your corporate social responsibility programmes,” he said.
“Donating or contributing will be for a good cause as protecting our natural capital is crucial to ensure survival of the human race in the long run,” Dionysius said.
“Protecting the planet takes collective effort, and WWF calls everyone to play their part,” he said in noting that the current funding that WWF received for HOB was mainly from NGOs and thus limited the work that can be implemented.
He said WWF plans to work on joint-project proposals with various government agencies for consideration by the HOB member countries to expand the scope of collaboration that enables government agencies to receive development funds and achieve greater conservation wins.
“We hope that the HoB Technical committee would consider such joint-proposals and WWF could then identify development agencies and funding institutions around the world that could consider such proposals,” Dionysius said.
He said the collaboration would be in the form of bilateral government-to-government technical cooperation projects.