SARAWAK SETS ASIDE 2.2 MILLION ACRES OF PROTECTED RAINFOREST
Sarawak, a state on the Malaysian side of Borneo, has assigned 2.2 million acres of rainforest the status of national park, natural reserve, and wildlife sanctuary. Chief Minister Adenan Satem pledged to protect tropical forests last year and has since ensured that all of the state’s orangutan habitats are contained by the new protected areas. Thirty-one additional totally protected areas (TPAs) are being created and will be managed by a new Department of National Parks and Wildlife that will open by January 2017. The Department will manage and conserve wildlife, create TPAs, and halt illegal hunting and selling of bushmeat. It will also ensure that permits for agricultural activities will only be awarded for lands that have already been logged or planted on, as well as for Native Customary Rights lands. These commitments address many concerns about oil palm cultivation and other agricultural activities that threaten Southeast Asia’s rainforests. Many conservation and indigenous rights groups, while lauding these steps, encourage consistent engagement with rural communities and diligence to ensure that the new Department is equipped with sufficient resources to do its job well. For the full story, see https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/sarawak-announces-department-of-national-parks-and-wildlife-to-open-next-year/.