Training Workshop on “Biodiversity for Busy Managers” (Miri)

[pullquote style="right" quote="dark"]From our observations and discussions, I realize you can actually do something – there’s always something we can do to reduce negative impacts and enhance biodiversity…[/pullquote]

Twenty-three people gathered around a small pond in an oil palm plantation near Miri recently. At first, all they could see was ‘a pond’, but, as they put on their “biodiversity hats” and began looking at the scene with new eyes, they began to see more – how the pond supported a complex web of life; how that life was struggling to survive amidst a variety of impacts from the surrounding land-use, and how, with a few changes to existing management practices, the quality of the habitat and the life it supports could be enhanced for the benefit of both wildlife and people.

The field trip was part of the recent Biodiversity for Busy Managers training workshop, organized by Wild Asia and MPOC, in Miri, Sarawak.

Reflecting on the experience, Galau Melayong, a senior manager from Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd, commented: “From our observations and discussions, I realize you can actually do something – there’s always something we can do to reduce negative impacts and enhance biodiversity.”

The two-day workshop gave participants a clearer understanding of the concept of biodiversity, especially in relation to the issues connected to the oil palm industry. It also focused on providing practical know-how aimed at helping managers to implement biodiversity management in their plantations, from learning about landscape management principles to looking at case studies of the development of riparian reserves and natural corridors.

“I now have a greater awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the need to sustain ecosystem services in the plantation. I also came away with some clear ideas on how to implement positive measures,” said Mohd Hasni Hassan, a manager from Tradewinds Plantation Bhd.

[pullquote style="left" quote="dark"]It was helpful for me to understand the common problems faced by plantations, and I was very encouraged to see how receptive managers in plantations are to conserving biodiversity…[/pullquote]

Most participants felt that the next step after the workshop was to go back to their respective workplaces and share what they had learned with their top management, staff and workers. Some were also keen to start implementation of the principles as soon as possible.

Several participants came from outside the palm oil industry, such as Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sarawak Forestry Department, the Sarawak State Planning Unit, the Malaysia Timber Certification Council and WWF-Malaysia. Some came to gain understanding of the biodiversity-related issues faced by the oil palm plantation sector; others to see whether similar principles could be applied to other areas, such as industrial tree plantation management and the designation of Protected Areas.

“It was helpful for me to understand the common problems faced by plantations, and I was very encouraged to see how receptive managers in plantations are to conserving biodiversity,” said Dayang Norwana, the sustainable agriculture officer from WWF-Malaysia.