August 18, 2008

Biodiversity Bank Set Up

KOTA KINABALU: A biodiversity bank, the first of its kind in Asia, has been set up to raise funds to protect and conserve the biodiversity-rich 34,000ha Malua Forest Reserves in the east coast of Sabah.

Called the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank, or Malua BioBank, it will be jointly managed by New Forests, an international environmental investment management and advisory services firm, and the state government, through its agency, Sabah Foundation.

The agreement for the establishment of the BioBank was signed here yesterday and witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and state forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan.

Signing for New Forests was its managing director Dr David Brand while Sabah Foundation was represented by its senior group finance and investment manager Andi Francis Toyong.

The agreement saw the state government granting conservation rights for a period of 50 years to the Malua BioBank and New Forests committing US$10 million (RM33.5 million) for the rehabilitation of the Malua Forest Reserves for six years.

Dr Brand said the Malua BioBank project would entail rehabilitation of the Malua Forest reserves and sell Biodiversity Conservation Certificates.

Each certificate, to be offered at US$10, will represent the rehabilitation and conservation of 100 square metres of rainforest.

Dr Brand said the Malua BioBank would sell its certificates to individuals, companies and investors and the revenue raised would endow a permanent conservation trust to support the conservation management of Malua.

The certificates will be registered in the TZ1 environmental registry and will be tradable, or can be retired.

TZ1 is an environmental commodities markets infrastructure provider.

The rainforest is inhabited by the Sumatran rhinoceros, about 1,000 orang utans and other rare animal species.

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