Nik Nazmi: Cooperation key in biodiversity conservation

PETALING JAYA: Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad has outlined several new approaches for state governments to enhance the impact of the Ecological Fiscal Transfer (EFT) mechanism designed to help them preserve their forests.

This, he said, includes implementing large-scale and more impactful biodiversity and forest conservation projects through a blended finance approach, which would involve mobilising additional funds from the state government and strategic partners in addition to the EFT allocation.

"Other measures include strengthening the criteria for EFT distribution by emphasising quality and outcomes and providing additional incentives under the EFT to states that amend their respective Forestry Enactments to align with the National Forestry Act (Amendment) 2022," he said in a statement on Wednesday (May 22).

He said this after attending a town hall on the implementation of the EFT for biodiversity conservation to discuss strategies to strengthen its impact.

The town hall was attended by ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ching Thoo, and over 50 guests from state treasury offices, state economic planning units, and representatives from the Economy Ministry and Finance Ministry.

During the town hall, Nik Nazmi also handed over the letters for the EFT allocation for 2024 to representatives from the state governments.

EFT was an additional financial incentive to encourage state governments to protect, conserve, and gazette protected areas for ecosystem services, including water catchment areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

State governments, said Nik Nazmi, needed to fully utilise the RM550mil allocation in EFT set aside since 2019 until now, including RM200mil just for this year alone.

He also welcomed suggestions and views from the state governments toward improving the EFT's implementation and hoped that the federal-state cooperation could be further strengthened to improve the effectiveness of biodiversity and forestry conservation.

The town hall on EFT was organised as part of the celebration of International Biodiversity Day on Wednesday (May 22).

Other activities included a town hall to set up a Malaysia Biodiversity Centre and a Natural History Museum, as well as interviews and demonstrations.

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