Simon Lyster, Vice Chair of the Trustees of World Land Trust (WLT), had a constructive meeting with Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment on a recent visit to Borneo, successfully strengthening support for the Keruak Corridor.
The Keruak Corridor is made up of many small parcels of forested land in a chain along the north bank of the Kinabatangan River which runs through the state of Sabah. These properties are currently in private ownership and therefore vulnerable to logging but, once purchased and protected, they will link two existing forest reserves. WLT is developing the Keruak Corridor project with Hutan, and providing funds for land purchase from WLT’s Borneo Rainforest Appeal.
(Dr Isabelle Lackman, Hutan Co-Director)
The visit started in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, where Simon had an extremely constructive meeting with Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s Minister of Environment, Tourism and Culture. Datuk Michael Emban, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, was also present.
“Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun is immensely supportive of the project and spoke warmly about both Hutan and World Land Trust,” said Simon after the meeting. During a dinner hosted by the minister, Masidi described the partnership between WLT and Hutan to protect land in Kinabatangan as a model of cooperation, a model of conservation gain, and a model he was going to use to encourage Malaysian businesses to support other corridors along the river.
At the dinner Simon also met Dr Laurentius Ambu, the Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department who was similarly supportive of the project and of Hutan, and very grateful to WLT.
Simon also had a very positive meeting with Lee Chun Khiong, the Deputy Director of Sabah’s Lands and Surveys department. “Mr Lee Chun Khiong’s support is crucial to get the corridor land correctly registered and eventually gazetted into the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Simon. “He proved enormously helpful and agreed to meet Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu to discuss the process and how it should best be done.”
(Dr Simon Lyster, WLT Trustee)
Finally, Simon met Christopher Chin, a local lawyer who is giving pro bono support to Hutan. “His role in the land purchase is crucial since the process of purchasing privately held forest land and ensuring it is gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary to guarantee its future protection is legally challenging,” explained Simon, “Chris Chin’s legal skills, reputation and connections are proving invaluable.”
“At such a critical stage of the project, being able to introduce a high ranking representative of World Land Trust to the minister and other stakeholders was extremely important,” said Isabelle. “We are all very grateful and inspired by the amazing success of WLT's fundraising efforts, and Simon’s visit to Kinabatangan was most welcome.”
While in Sabah, Simon visited properties in Kinabatangan saved by WLT funds and spent time getting to know more about Hutan. “Staff of Hutan are such an impressive lot,” said Simon. “Co-Director Dr Isabelle Lackman is a terrific leader, and she has a great bunch of people working with her. Hutan is particularly strong at the community level in Kinabatangan, but they also have excellent relations with all the relevant ministers and senior officials in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah.”
Pictured above from left to right: Dr Simon Lyster (WLT Trustee), YB Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun (Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment), Datuk Michael Emban (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment), Dr Isabelle Lackman (Hutan Co-Director)
Simon Lyster was in Sabah 25-30 November 2013. His travel costs were covered by Northumbrian Water.
WLT's Borneo Rainforest Appeal is aiming to raise one million pounds to secure the Keruak Corridor. Please help meet the target by making a donation to the appeal.