KUCHING: More scientific expeditions should be carried out in Sarawak’s Heart of Borneo and the Totally Protected Areas, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
He said the state government had expanded its Heart of Borneo area from 2.1mil ha to 2.7mil ha while remaining committed to gazetting at least 1mil ha of Totally Protected Areas by 2020.
“Many parts of the state which are mountainous and covered with primary rainforests rich in biodiversity remain to be explored.
“Moving forward, the state government through the Urban Development and Natural Resources Ministry is committed to and supportive of the Forest Department Sarawak’s initiative to conduct more scientific expeditions, especially in the unexplored Totally Protected Areas.
“The expeditions can be organised on a yearly basis at different magnitude and scale,” he said when opening the Heart of Borneo Tama Abu scientific expedition seminar here yesterday.
Awang Tengah said the seminar provided a venue for experts to share and deliberate on the outcome of the Tama Abu expedition, which took place at Long Banga in 2017 under the Heart of Borneo Initiative.
“This is a manifestation of our continuous and sustained commitment towards conservation of our flora and fauna,” he said.
Forest Department Sarawak acting director Hamden Mohammad said Sarawak’s Heart of Borneo area, which stretched from Lawas in the north to the Tanjung Datu National Park in the south, was known to have high biodiversity, but parts of it remained unknown due to extreme physical conditions.
“To ensure that conservation of its biological diversity can be managed effectively, data from the Heart of Borneo area should be obtained.
“However, limited accessibility, huge areas and mountainous terrain make data collection sometimes very difficult,” he said.
As such, he said organising scientific expeditions combining various disciplines was the best approach to explore the Heart of Borneo’s remote parts.
Five expeditions have been carried out in the Heart of Borneo area since 2008, with the Tama Abu expedition being the latest one.
“The seminar will address key aspects of biodiversity in Tama Abu by providing the opportunity to the researchers involved to report, share and discuss scientific findings, achievements and challenges during the expedition.
“I hope this will generate new ideas and approaches for promoting ecosystem stability through biodiversity preservation,” Hamden said.