Piasau Nature Reserve set to become world’s next eco-landmark

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MIRI: The Piasau Nature Reserve (PNR) here will further enhance the image of this city in terms of global tourism and environmental conservation upon its completion by late next year.

The nature reserve – formerly known as Piasau Camp – is a classic example of excellent cooperation between the community and relevant authorities.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) deputy general manager (protected areas and biodiversity cooperation) Oswald Braken Tisen said PNR had created a record of a sort in Sarawak by receiving the fastest approval from the government among other projects – some of which could take years and even decades to be gazetted.

He mentioned community involvement including by expatriates here as being among the contributing factors to the speedy approval.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Chapter chairman Musa Musbah concurred with Braken, adding that the Shell personnel and their spouses in the likes of Dr Giana Minton, as well as Erwin Adam and his wife Paula Versteegen, were among the earliest proponents of the project and those still actively involved in the camp, especially on observing hornbills.

Musa told thesundaypost other strong supporters included Mairead Boland and her husband Dave Paton, Dominique Wan and Brian Graham Parker – all of whom had contributed in their own special ways.

Contributions of the expats

Musa, who is tasked with studying the wildlife in PNR, said Dr Minton was the first to monitor the hornbill’s nest here in 2007 – way before him – and continue to do so.

“But she had only been in communication with SFC. We do not know much about the data she have collected.”

“As for Erwin Adam, who is a member of MNS Miri member and one of the Shell committee members involved in the plan to relinquish Piasau Camp to the government in 2011, he is a key person linking us to the camp,” he said, adding that Adam gave him access to the camp and House 58 to monitor the hornbill’s nest.

“He helped us to link with Shell and the one financing food for my team to monitor the hornbill via Piasau Boat Club. It was his input that paved the way towards the creation of Piasau Nature Reserve Plan,” said Musa, who is also deputy chairman of Piasau Camp Miri Nature Park Society (PCMNPS).

Wan, an active MNS member and a lecturer of geology at Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia, is also water quality expert, according to Musa, adding that she used to follow MNS’ firefly expeditions along the Miri River.

“At PNR, Wan (under Curtin and MNS) is now actively conducting a quantitative survey and cataloguing on the types of rubbish dumped along the beach,” Musa said, stressing that understanding the type of rubbish was vital in finding solutions for the problem.

Then came the couple, Boland and Paton, who are also MNS members. According to Musa, Paton has sponsored the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system that links to the Internet, with Boland covering Internet charges.

“Mairead (Boland) has always been a strong supporter of MNS – she is the one connecting Shell with MNS Miri. Dave (Paton) does a lot of the ground work and monitoring in PNR.”

Boland and Musa had jointly compiled a working paper entitled ‘Hornbills – Agents of Chance’ presented during the inaugural National Hornbill Conference here in August this year.

It would be Boland’s last major contribution with Shell here as she and Paton would leave for Canada to retire there.

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