Management of protected areas strengthened in efforts to conserve biodiversity

11 Sep 2023 12:47pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - A national framework to strengthen the management of protected areas in a bid to protect the country’s biodiversity and conserve its ecosystem, species and genetic diversity will be developed in the remaining 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) period.

According to the 12MP Mid-Term Review (MTR) released by the Economy Ministry today, it includes the gazettement of new protected areas and encouragement for states in the peninsula to increase its forested areas to 50 per cent by 2040, in line with the Fourth National Physical Plan.

"State governments will implement a moratorium on the approval of new forest plantation development in the Permanent Reserved areas in Peninsular Malaysia for a period of 15 years,” the document stated.

The move is among the focus on efforts to boost the country's sustainability in dealing with climate change and other environmental challenges, including in the energy and water sectors outlined in the 2023-2025 12MP way forward.

A blueprint to strengthen the planning for the expansion of marine protected areas (MPA) will also be completed in 2024, in addition to the development of a system on fisheries resources that consolidates data on marine ecosystems and biodiversity to facilitate the identification of potential locations for the establishment of MPA corridors, in 2025.

In protecting and conserving the country’s wealth of species and genetic resources, the government will be developing an electronic permit system, as stipulated in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, as well as exploring the utilisation of artificial intelligence technology in ensuring effective surveillance and enforcement.

The MTR stated that the Fisheries Act 1985 will also be reviewed to include additional provisions which focus on the undertaking of fisheries impact assessment for coastal and marine development projects as well as on the regulation of transhipment at sea.

"The review will also involve improvement on marine park provisions and raise in penalties, particularly for offences related to marine habitat and species,” it said.

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On the subject of biosecurity, the government aims to ratify the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress and establish an effective system of biosafety management by 2025, in addition to the revision of the Biosafety Act 2007 to address emerging issues related to advanced biotechnology, including, through the labelling of living modified organisms (LMO) products.

The MTR also stated that in promoting sustainable utilisation of natural assets, the National Mineral Policy 2 will be reviewed to provide a more holistic direction to drive the mineral industry development, including non-radioactive rare earth element (NR-REE), bauxite, tin, silica and kaolin.

"The review which is one of the initiatives under the Big Bold Rare Earths Industry will incorporate policies on mining activities in permanent forest reserves, environmentally sensitive areas and protected areas,” it said.

This is especially important as the review found that the NR-REE industry is expected to create 6,550 jobs and contribute RM9.5 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025.

Additionally, the development and implementation of plans to revitalise the mineral subsectors, generate economic benefits and promote natural resource conservation will also be introduced.

The government is also looking into expanding the Total Economic Value (TEV) assessments to coastal areas of all peninsula states, on top of the ongoing TEV assessments in Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Selangor which are expected to conclude this year.

These assessments will support evidence-based policy formulation in the conservation of natural ecosystems. - BERNAMA