Kuching: The state's biological resources will now be better safeguarded with the passing of Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) Amendment Bill, 2014 by the august house yesterday.
Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan who tabled the Bill said it will also enabled further development of biological resources through research and development (R&D) to not only benefit the state but more importantly the affecteed communities involved.
He stressed that since traditional knowledge was an important component in conducting R&D on Sarawak's biodiversity for potential commercialisation and to utilise its resources for pharmaceutical and therapeutic applications, better regulatory policies were required to protect the interest of the communities involved.
He said this in his winding-up speech before the BIll was put to pass.
He told the august house that since 2001, SBC had documented traditional knowledge from 13 communities all over the state.
"Since then, SBC has documented a total of 4,815 plants with various uses including medicinal, food and healthcare and this documentation is still going on," he said.
He assured that in doing so the government would put in place rules and procedures on access and benefit sharing as well as guidelines on Prior Informed Consent (PIC).
"In fact SBC has been practising a form of PIC through its Traditional Knowledge Documentation programme," he said, adding that the Bill was intended to formalise and reinforce the said practice.
The government is finalising a PIC framework that will be implemented on a trial case for access and benefit sharing and it is expected to be fully implemented by 2015," he pointed out.
On the preservation of natural resources, he said the government acknowledged that logging, construction of dams, plantations and development would definitely impact biodiversity.
Nevertheless, he said, the government had been addressing it through the existing land-use policy which balances the need for development and economic growth with the environment.
"Through this policy, we will allocate one million hectares (eight per cent) of the Totally Protected Areas by 2020, 6.0 million hectares (48 per cent) of Permanent Forest Estate and 4.0 million hectares (32 per cent) for agriculture," he explained.
He stated that in areas where dams we constructed, a programme on Wildlife Monitoring and Rescue (Wimor) would be carried out. According to him, in the development of Bakun hydroelectric dam, a total of 1,552 wild animals were rescued, consisting of 1,419 mammals, 47 birds and 86 reptiles.
"A total of 33,000 plants were rescued and planted at suitable locations to enhance water edge habitat and for the protection of genetic resources of rare species," he disclosed.
Meanwhile, the newly amended passed Bill involved sections 2, 6, 15A, 22, 31, and 35 of the original Sarawak Biodiversity Centre Bill.
Source: Borneo Post, 7th May 2014