Bukit Sarang and Binyo Penyilam two biodiversity-rich areas in Bintulu Division will be turned into national parks as part of State Government efforts to meet IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) requirement.
IUCN states at least 10 percent of a country’s land area must be kept as totally protected areas (TPAs). Sarawak land area is about 12.4 million hectares and the State has yet to achieve its target of 1.2 million hectares as TPAs.
As of July this year, only 903,769 hectares of Sarawak’s land gazetted as TPAs – 694,770 hectares as national parks, 2,539 as hectares nature reserves and 206,460 hectare as wildlife sanctuaries.
“If we turn Bukit Sarang and Binyo Penyilam into national parks, that means we are making a progress towards our target of 1.2 million ha TPAs. We are therefore looking at the two areas favourably,” Ahmad Sapuan Director of Sarawak Forestry Department told local daily The Borneo Post yesterday.
Binyo Penyilam is an important fish-breeding ground in Bintulu Divison, especially tapah (wallago leerii), while Bukit Sarang is known for its natural bird’s nests and limestone caves.
According to Joanes Unggang, conservation manager of GP Pusaka, both areas should be considered conservation areas due to their unique landscapes, habitat for rare, threatened and endangered animal species.
“Gazetting both areas as national parks will enhance the protection of biodiversity and the recognition of the importance of the areas as a reservoir for some rare, threatened or endangered species, including some new species,” said Joanes, who is also leader of a group of experts in biodiversity inventories in the areas concerned.
Research and inventory works in both areas began in 2004 and are still on-going today in collaboration with numerous researchers from local and international institutions such as Smithsonian Institution, USA; Lund University, Sweden; National University of Singapore (RMBR); Nanyang Technological University; University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Unimas; UTAR Kuala Lumpur; Singapore Herbarium and AFSID, SFC.
“We are not only conserving these two areas under our project but also connecting them with the largest existing wildlife corridor in Sarawak called the Bukit Mina Wildlife Corridor.”
“The purpose is to have a virtual connectivity between the two areas for conservation. It will be the first of its kind in Sarawak. Everything is already in place and ready for legal protection,” said Joanes.