Fresh 10-year plan to strengthen Heart of Borneo conservation, says Hajiji

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has launched a new set of Strategic Plans of Action (SPA) to address challenges and take advantage of potential opportunities to enhance conservation and management of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) landscape.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic) said Sabah had made significant strides in implementing programmes and projects under the Second Sabah Strategic Plan of Action (SPA).

However, he said due to the rapidly changing economic, social and environmental landscape, the new SPA (2021-2030) was needed to build on the achievements of the previous strategic plans of action.

He said the achievements of the Sabah HoB initiatives were due to the commitment of both the state and federal governments for the initiative as well as policy continuity and the ability for key stakeholders to work together.

"The achievements had helped to leverage the HoB brand for funding and new partnerships,” he said at the opening of the Heart of Borneo Symposium Sabah at the Sabah International Convention Centre here Friday (Dec 2).

His speech at the symposium themed "The Need for Holistic and Pragmatic Approaches on Conservation Efforts" was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

Hajiji said several new features were introduced in the new SPA was to further align its focus moving forward representing strategic shifts critical to move the Sabah HoB initiative to higher gear towards conservation.

“The goals of the focus area of the Sabah HoB SPA 2021-2030 are closely aligned with the main goals of the key State’s and national development plans including the Haja Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya Development Plan 2021-2025, Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2021-2030 and the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025,” he said.

He said the launch of the SPA was the beginning of awareness raising that would be followed by roadshows throughout the state to further promote HoB.

“Public awareness of HoB and its conservation efforts has always been a priority to Sabah.

"Over the past years, roadshows, environmental education and training programmes to promote HoB Initiatives have been conducted for teachers and local communities, especially to those residing within or near the HoB landscape,” he said.

The Sabah HoB, he said was also contributing to the country’s international commitments such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze, Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the World Heritage Convention (WHC).

“While the SPA is committed to delivering the individual goals of the focus area, it prioritises the achievement of the overall goals through the adoption of an integrated policy approach.

“This, together with the state government’s commitment to put in place a more cohesive institutional arrangement, is expected to contribute meaningfully to the various state and national sustainable development agenda,” he said.

The Sabah HoB, represents around 60% of Malaysia’s Heart of Borneo landscape and it holds one of the world’s remaining bastions of treasured biodiversity.

“This is a place where communities with different cultures and social entities work and live, and critically supports the local and State economy, while securing precious water sources at the headwaters of all major river basins in Sabah," Hajiji said.

Since the inception of the HoB Initiative, the state has gazetted1.9 million ha of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) or about 26.4% of Sabah’s total landmass and the state was committed to expanding the size of its TPAs to 2.2 million ha or 30% of Sabah’s land mass by 2025.

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