KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has been urged to continue adopting holistic economic recovery approaches that take environmental concerns into account.
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), in applauding the state government’s commitment in continuing its policy to achieve 30 percent Totally Protected Areas (TPA) statewide by 2025, said it was important that sustainable developments was practised.
WWF, through its head of conservation Sabah Dr Robecca Jumin, said this in response to the Sabah head of state Tun Juhar Mahiruddin’s policy speech during the 16th state legislative assembly sitting which touched on plans to improve Sabah’s environmental management.
“On behalf of WWF-Malaysia, we would like to applaud the state government’s commitment to prioritising environmental protection.
“We urge the state government to also ensure that 50 percent of Sabah’s land area is always under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services such as watershed areas and habitats for flora and fauna, in line with state and national policies” she said.
To date, Sabah has achieved 1.9 million hectares of its forest area or 26 per cent of the TPAs, making Sabah the state with the largest TPA in Malaysia, with 48% healthy non-degraded forest cover.
Juhar also said the state government will continue to focus on and take initiatives to protect, preserve and conserve nature, while adding that efforts to expand marine sanctuary areas to 13 percent by 2023 would also continue.
“With the mandate given by the people, the new administration helmed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor inherits the responsibility of protecting Sabah's rich biodiversity, an important asset to ensure that Sabah and the nation bounce back better to a green and just recovery from the Covid-19 health and economic impacts, ” said Dr Robecca.
She said Sabah should continue working towards development in a sustainable way to balance economic aspirations without compromising its natural capital (environmental assets, social systems, cultural resources).
This is in line with the sustainable development goals and Malaysia’s climate change and biodiversity policies, she said.
“Sustainable development should be a goal that ensures a win-win in the environmental, social and economic aspects of Sabah.
“The threats of flash floods, air pollution, landslides, water supply shortage, and forest fires would increase without adequate protection of nature, ” she said, adding these are already seen occurring and would intensify due to the pressures of rising populations and climate change.
Dr Robecca said it is important that the new Sabah government practises a more inclusive and consultative process when making policies and decisions to ensure the best solutions for both people and the environment.
“We hope to continue working together with the state government to help achieve these goals, ” she added.
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