Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh (centre) with Director of Forest Datuk Hamden Mohammad (seond left) Deputy Directors Jack Liam (left) and Abang Ahmad Abang Morni (second right) and Senior Assistant Director International Affairs Division Runi Sylvester Pungga (right) applaud after officiating the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Seminar 2020.

KUCHING: Other relevant agencies besides the Forestry Department are urged to leverage the Heart of Borneo (HoB) brand with international bodies.

Assistant Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh said the effort was necessary in seeking funds for the implementation of the programme under the HoB initiative.

“With regard to sourcing funding that are not under the Forestry Department Sarawak’s jurisdiction such as agriculture and tourism, collaborations with international and local bodies will enable to help strengthen the programme of the HoB initiative,” he said before officiating the opening ceremony of the Sarawak’s HoB Seminar 2020 here on Tuesday (Sept 22).

Recognising that the state economy was tourism-oriented, Len said the HoB areas had the potential to become eco-tourism destinations.

“Government agencies and local communities need to work together with the private sectors to ensure the development of eco-tourism industry is green, sustainable and fair.”

He highlighted promoting the transboundary ecotourism sites as tourism product in line with the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP) 2016-2025.

“Malaysia recognises the importance of ecotourism for conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

“In Sarawak, some of the ecotourism clusters are identified under NEP, including areas under the HoB such as Batang Ai in Sri Aman, Ulu Sungai Menyang in Maludam, Sibu, Kapit, Tunoh Baleh, Pelagus, Sibuti, Niah, Loagan Bunut, Mulu and Gunung Buda as well as Sebuyau National Park.”

The effort, he stressed, would also help to mitigate negative perception about how Sarawak managed its forest resources.

“We should take this opportunity to promote our efforts in sustainable forest management and sustainable oil palm through certification of the HoB areas.

“This also will showcase our community engagement.”