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MoU signed for restoration of Orangutan Habitat in Heart of Borneo (HoB)

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, October 27.

A five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between WWF-Malaysia and the Sabah state government has been signed to restore 967 hectares of degraded land in the North Ulu Segama landscape, for the enhancement of orangutan habitat within the Heart of Borneo.

The MoU for the project - made possible with RM4.35 million contributed by ITOCHU Corporation of Japan - was signed during a regional forum on ‘Enhancing forest eco-systems and corridors within the Heart of Borneo in Sabah, Oct 26-27.

Opening the forum, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, said the State was very serious about conserving its forests and very committed to the Heart of Borneo, adding that 250,000 hectares of forest had already been set aside for conservation.  However, he said financing remained a crucial subject. To this end he thanked the Malaysian Federal government for its contribution of RM5 million to the Sabah Forestry Department to kick-start programme implementation - but indicated more help was needed.

“It is the hope of the Sabah state government that ‘friends’ from European countries and the USA can lend support to this endeavour,” he said.

WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative Leader, Adam Tomasek, congratulated the Sabah state government’s commitment to the Heart of Borneo and emphasised his gratitude to Japan’s ITOCHU Group for its generous contribution.

“These funds are vital for the restoration of a high priority landscape and long-term viability for orangutans.   Healthy forest ecosystems are a priority for the three country Heart of Borneo initiative, and Sabah is providing a strong leadership example of working with the international community to realize this goal”

"ITOCHU's support is a clear sign of Japanese interest in the Heart of Borneo and as host of the 2010 UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference we look forward to profiling this growing partnership between governments and private sector," Mr Tomasek said.

Pic caption: Signing of the MoU at the regional forum.  (left to right) Dr Rahimatsah Amat (Chief Technical Officer, WWF-Malaysia, Sabah office), Datuk Sam Mannan, (Director of Sabah Forestry Department) and (Sabah Chief Minister), Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

For further information, please contact:
Chris Greenwood, HoB Communications Manager +60 012 8281214.

Adam Tomasek, Leader, Heart of Borneo Initiative
Tel: +62 21 5761070 ext. 503, Fax: +62 21 57610980, Cellphone: +62 815 19044 167

Notes to editors

The Heart of Borneo Initiative
In February 2007, the governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia signed the Heart of Borneo Declaration to protect an area of more than 220,000 square kilometres in the centre of the island and bordering all three countries. The declaration is supported under important regional and international agreements such as Association of East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).