Experts: EFT scheme needs more funds and transparency

PETALING JAYA: More allocations should be set aside for the Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation (EFT) incentive because the RM200mil allocated for this year is not enough to better protect crucial forest and marine areas, say NGOs.

Environmental group Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman said the EFT ias a vital instrument to transfer financial resources from Putrajaya to states to promote the protection and conservation of forests and biodiversity.

However, she noted that the allocation for this year is insufficient to conserve larger areas.

“Hence, more financial resources will be needed for states to do more,” she added.

With higher EFT allocations to states, Meenakshi said state governments would be encouraged to conserve and expand protected areas.

“Otherwise, they may be tempted to convert forests to other uses such as logging or plantations in search of more revenue.”

Meenakshi also suggested that the government explore accessing international funds like the Green Climate Fund to secure additional funding for forest protection initiatives.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Vincent Chow said an example of the EFT’s success would be the 1,800ha Panti Bird Sanctuary, which is home to close to 300 species of birds.

“They called MNS for assistance and we did a meaningful job with them,” said Chow, noting that it was an initiative between the Johor Forestry Department and the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).

He also said the Panti Forest Reserve in Kota Tinggi, which covers an area of over 13,512ha, had benefited from the EFT.

“This is one of the places where the spotted leopard was found and we located it together with Perhilitan via camera tracking. There are good points coming out from the EFT and Johor is one tangible example that we know of,” said Chow.

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