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January 30, 2011

Malaysia keen to have Maliau Basin on Unesco’s heritage listing

MALIAU BASIN : Malaysia is very keen to list Sabah’s Lost World, the Maliau Basin, as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in endorsing the state government’s proposal, said that a world heritage listing will bring attention and interest to the 58,400ha untouched tropical rainforest which is only slightly smaller than Singapore.

He said the listing of Mount Kinabalu National Park, George Town and Malacca, and the Gunung Mulu National Park had brought prominence to these natural and historically important sites.

However, a lot of work needs to be done to obtain the listing as various requirements need to be met, he said.

“I would support the Chief Minister in getting this place listed as a world heritage site,” Najib told reporters after becoming the first Prime Minister to set foot in the Maliau Basin where he opened the Maliau Basin Studies Centre and launched a study of the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE).

Najib said the Maliau Basin contained rare flora and fauna, including six types of pitcher plants and more than 80 species of orchids and endangered wildlife, from rhinoceros to the orang utan.

“Only about 25% of the Maliau Basin has been explored.

“From four major expeditions between 1986 and 2005, we learned it has the greatest number of waterfalls anywhere in Malaysia, about 40 in all, including the famous seven-tiered Maliau Falls,” he said.

Najib said the setting was right for a long-term rainforest research project as Malaysia is among 12 mega bio-diversity countries in the world.

He added that preservation of the ecological system will bring scenic, cultural, educational, research, recreational and tourism benefits.

However, he said, conservation requires funding and he hoped the private sector can play a significant role in sustaining and extending Malaysia’s conservation efforts.

“This will be crucial in making the Maliau Basin Studies Centre a premier facility for tropical rainforest research and scientific discovery in the region,” he added.



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