Malaysia: Piasau nature reserve given the green light

People’s wish fulfilled, Chief Minister wants gazetting done fast
Antonia Chiam Borneo Post, 28 Sep 13;

KUCHING: Piasau Camp will be gazetted as a nature reserve by the year-end if there is no objection to the process.

Assistant Environment Minister Datu Len Talif Salleh said the state cabinet had approved the move and Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had asked him to speed up the gazetting process.

“All studies and documentations have been done and these will be our basis on gazetting the area. Usually the process takes a long time, but I do not foresee any objection that could cause delay.

“It can be done by the end of the year. Once gazetted, the area will be fenced up and turn into a botanical garden, similar to Stutong Nature Reserve. Petronas and Shell have also indicated their willingness to finance the running of the nature reserve,” he told reporters yesterday.

Len added that a maximum 60 days is required for public inquiry and if there is no objection, the gazetting can be sped up.
“In fact, we can start the public inquiry any time now. Besides protecting the wildlife there, it will be good for Miri to have a nature reserve in the middle of the city,” he said.

Len also expressed his sadness over the killing of Piasau Camp resident hornbill Faridah, whose carcass was recovered from a bulk bin on Thursday.

“Hornbills mate for life, so when one partner dies the other will be very sad. We don’t know how long he (Jimmy the hornbill) will last.

“We will let the law take its course. Whoever committed this crime will be taken action against by the law, a crime which carries the penalty of RM25,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment,” he said.

Regarding online speculation that the poachers were hired to kill the hornbills to stop the government from gazetting the area, he refused to comment without any evidence.

On the proposal to gazette Kuala Lawas in Limbang as a national park, Len said it is currently in the public inquiry process.

“I don’t have the full details on this, but currently it is in the public inquiry process to see if there are any public or stakeholder objections. We are trying to educate people living in the area that by putting the area as a Totally Protected Area (TPA), it does not deny them of the usage of the area.

“Instead it can be done better as the resources will be managed professionally to ensure sustainability. A good example is Loagan Bunut National Park where there is the Berawan community living there. We taught them not to overfish and only to fish at certain times. It is a long process to educate the local people but we will continue to engage them in discussions. There is no such thing as taking away the area from them,” he pointed out.

Mirians erupt in joy over Faridah’s last stand as mama
Cecilia Sman Borneo Post, 29 Sep 13;

MIRI: There was much rejoicing here yesterday after the decision to gazette Piasau Camp as a nature reserve, as mama hornbill Faridah etched a home in the hearts of all nature lovers far beyond Miri, including the corridors of power in Kuching.

The announcement by Assistant Minister of Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh on Friday in Kuching, came a day after nature lovers were united in grief over the tragic death of Faridah – the name given to the female hornbill, a totally protected species at Piasau Garden just metres away from Piasau Camp.

Datuk Lee Kim Shin, the Assistant Minister for Communications, thanked Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Cabinet colleagues profusely for the strong support to turn the camp into a nature park.

“This is the government’s 50th Malaysia Day gift and also contribution from Petronas and Shell to the state and the people of Miri because they will also be part of the funding and development of the park,” said Lee when interviewed by The Borneo Post yesterday.

Lee said he had recently briefed the state’s Cabinet on the needs to preserve the camp for the conservation of the rich flora and fauna, including the hornbills and as heritage, adding that the camp is associated with the oil and gas industry in Miri.

He said ecological surveys conducted by Shell and Unimas respectively in May and June this year showed that Piasau Camp has at least four totally protected species of birds including hornbills and several protected mammals and plants.

He hoped the people of Miri will treasure the park and jointly with the enforcement authorities in protecting and conserving the area, which he said once gazetted will be another tourism destination for the city. It will also be the ‘first nature park in a city’ in Sarawak and likely, he said, in the whole of Malaysia.

The pro tem Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Chapter were elated with the government’s timely announcement to gazette the camp as a nature park.

To which MNS Miri Chapter chairman Musa Musbah said: “Thank you, Sarawak Government and its leaders. This is really a good 50 Years Sarawak Merdeka gift. No gift is better than this to Mirians.”

Musa is also the society’s vice chairman and SFC honorary forest ranger.

Society chairman Datuk Sebastian Ting also thanked the chief minister and his Cabinet, Shell, Petronas and the relevant government agencies for the concerted efforts to make the park a reality.

“The media too played an equally important role in rallying the people’s support and getting the government’s attention to the call of the people to have Piasau Camp gazetted as a nature park.

“Faridah (the mama hornbill) may be gone but the good media coverage had aroused great interest and awareness among the people. Your reports too reached our top management (the government),” said Ting at a joint press conference attended by his members yesterday.

He urged the people in Miri to join the 5th Hornbill Walk today, starting 2pm, at Piasau Camp in memory of Faridah and also as strong support for the government’s decision to conserve Piasau Camp as a nature park for all to cherish.

As part of the walk, there will also be sale of limited edition t-shirts in memory of Faridah priced at RM10 each, while the usual t-shirt on Piasau Camp Hornbill is priced at RM20 each.

Meanwhile, he said the society will continue to work closely with MNS Miri Chapter and the authorities in creating greater public awareness on the conservation of wildlife and the environment.

Among other activities included are a petition campaign in both the mass media and going to the general public. So far he said, over 6, 400 signatures have been received.