The Kinabalu Ecolinc Project is a connectivity conservation efforts initiated by Sabah Parks to improve ecological connectivity between Kinabalu Park (KP) and Crocker Range Park (CRP). Although Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park reside on the same range, the parks are physically separated from each other; their boundaries separated by a distance of about 10km at the closest points. Forest fragmentation that occurs within these two protected areas due to uncontrolled deforestation and expansion of agricultural and human activities has been the major issue.
Both parks could become completely isolated from each other and the surrounding forests – hence threaten their ecological integrity. This Project is therefore an attempt to create a more harmonized habitat corridor for people, plants and wildlife living in between these two Parks. It is to complement current conservation practices, based on the principles that local communities are the best guardian of their natural environments and heritages. A feasibility study conducted in 2010 – 2011 suggests two (2) types of zoning areas; Primary Areas and Secondary Areas. The Primary Areas will be strictly protected; hunting will be prohibited and only limited resource utilization shall be allowed. Meanwhile, the Secondary Areas shall be managed as zones for sustainable resource utilization, and for eco-tourism and related activities. These areas are also known as Kinabalu Ecolinc Zone. The basic principles for implementation would be;
1.There shall be NO new parks or forest reserves gazetted in this Zone. 2.Village land and agricultural land shall not be disturbed. 3.The local communities must be involved in the implementation and management of the proposed Zone. 4.Land managed for the proposed Zone should be secured in the long term. 5.Any threats to biodiversity must be reduced.
The key method of implementation is the establishment of Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) within this Zone, managed by the local community voluntarily, with supports from the government and its agencies. This is followed by: •Community-based restoration of degraded habitat in CCAs and adjacent areas. •Development of sustainable agriculture for livelihoods and enhanced land management •Enhancing forest-related community tourism options to support forest management
This connectivity conservation Zone has been selected as one of the three demonstration sites for the European Union (EU) – REDD+ Climate Change Action programme namely “Tackling Climate Change through Sustainable Forest Management and Community Development”, starting from January 2014 to December 2017. In June 2014, the Kinabalu Ecolinc Project Team has been established to kick off the
Project implementation phase under this programme with the Team mission; “to enhance awareness and understanding of local communities of the importance of their forests for the continuation of life, and to encourage and raise their participation in conservation efforts and sustainable management of natural resources, voluntarily and continuously"
The Kinabalu Ecolinc Zone is indeed a long term project goal. It is a strategic action plan, a line of life, a bridge to the future, a path for the continuation of Sabah’s natural heritage. The Kinabalu Ecolinc Project is a vision with one ultimate goal – improved connectivity for the sake of all. It is a gift to the world! .