MIRI: Environmentally-unfriendly development will not be allowed to be carried out in the 600ha Kuala Baram Wetlands project site near the Sarawak-Brunei border.
Sarawak Environment and Resources Planning Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said there would be tight control over any development projects in the area, 25km from here.
Speaking at a gathering at the Kuala Baram mosque, he said the Kuala Baram Wetlands was an ecologically-fragile area where rare migratory birds from around the world took shelter.
“The state government will only allow projects that do not disturb the ecosystem to be carried out in the Kuala Baram Wetlands.
“We will not allow projects that can cause serious impact on the environment and animals, particularly the birds,” he said.
Aggressive replanting of trees must be carried out to support the wetlands as a haven for endangered migratory birds, he added.
Tengah said a major tree-replanting programme was needed because many plots of land in Kuala Baram had been cleared.
“Areas affected by development projects like land clearing for industrial buildings and residential estates should be earmarked for regreening.
“We need to replant plenty of trees and bushes since the wetlands have been confirmed as a transit pathway for migratory birds which escaped the winter season.
“These trees and bushes will help to provide much-needed shelter and food sources for these birds to continue their journey to their breeding grounds,” he added.
Sarawak Forestry Department director Sapuan Ahmad said the place would be turned into a nature reserve even though the land was owned by a businessman.
He said the Malaysian Nature Society and his department were carrying out ground survey on the bird species there.
So far, the team had documented 132 species of birds, many of which were rare, that use Kuala Baram as their haven during their annual migration from the northern hemisphere to the southern part of the globe.
The department planned to work with the landowner and the resident in Kuala Baram to protect the place from being over-developed, Sapuan said.