Updated plan to strengthen Heart of Borneo conservation

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

The Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative has provided Sabah with a framework for state-wide sustainable development within a trilateral collaboration between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia to manage and conserve the rainforest that straddles the three countries.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said Sabah had made significant strides in implementing programmes and projects under the Second Sabah 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 SPA that ran from 2014 to 2020.

He said the achievements of the Sabah HoB initiatives were due to the commitment of both 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 yesterday.

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 to represent strategic shifts critical to moving the Sabah HoB initiative to greater 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 and national development plans, including the Haja Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya Development Plan 2021-2025, the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2021-2030 and the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025),” he added.

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

“Public awareness of HoB and its conservation efforts has always been a priority for Sabah. Over the past years, roadshows, environmental education and training programmes to promote HoB initiatives have been conducted for teachers and local communities, especially those residing within or near the HoB landscape,” he added.

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

“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.

“With this, and the state government’s commitment to putting in place a more cohesive institutional arrangement, the SPA is expected to contribute meaningfully to the various state and national sustainable development agendas,” he said.

Sabah represents around 60% of Malaysia’s HoB landscape and holds one of the world’s remaining bastions of biodiversity.

Since the inception of the HoB Initiative, Sabah has gazetted 1.9 million hectares of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs), or about 26.4% of its land mass.

The state is committed to expanding the size of its TPAs to 2.2 million hectares, or 30% of its land mass, by 2025.

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