The BIMP-EAGA Business Council's conference - held in
October 2008 at Manado, on the Indonesian island of
Sulawesi - highlighted the outstanding cultural and
natural heritage of BIMP-EAGA.
is a region known for
environmental diversity and in particular the high concentration of marine
life. Theories suggest this is because when the world's
land mass shifted from one large body to the multiple continents
we now know, the Sulu and Celebes seas became the
centrepoint. The present continental land masses moved
away in all directions, leaving this centrepoint relatively
Others suggest the rapid
changes in sea depth around islands in the region creates
such diverse habitats in a nutrient rich sea that it can
support an unusually high diversity and density of marine
wildlife. The reputation and popularity of wall
dive-sites in the region certainly supports this idea.
The jungles of Borneo
and Irian Jaya slowly reveal their secrets, with scientists "discovering"
dozens of new plant and animal species every year.
Scientific research centres - such as the University of
Brunei Darussalam's Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre
inside Ulu Temburong National Park and Operation Wallacea's
centre on Hoga Island in Walkatobi - play host to
international and regional scientists working together to
develop greater knowledge and understanding of the amazing
natural heritage of the region.
Looking towards the
future of a warmer globe, scientists and governments have
already begun the search in this region for genetic material
to help create new varieties of grain crops which will
productive in a higher temperature. A UK university has
already established a branch in Malaysia to focus on this
task. The BIMP-EAGA region is
recognised as a repository of as yet undiscovered genetic material;
on land and sea. And as a major future producer of the world's food through sustainable management of the amazing natural
and cultural assets it contains.
The rainforest jungles
of BIMP-EAGA - including Borneo and Irian Jaya - are
regarded as important "lungs" for the world.
Heart of Borneo. This WWF project - in conjunction with
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia - is designed to help preserve and protect the unique
cultural and environmental heritage on Borneo.
large portion of the
This important region is recognised
as containing over half the world's marine biodiversity and
is a vital future world food source if effectively protected
and responsibly managed.
Wallace Line - the transition between species common to
Australia and those common to Asia. This boundary was identified by
Alfred Russell Wallace during his 19th Century
explorations in the area. According to some writers,
Wallace's discoveries - along with his subsequent letters to
Darwin and his relative isolation (Darwin was in the
Galapagos at the time and therefore closer to the UK) - prompted Darwin to
return quickly to the UK and publish
first, to be credited with the concepts of
evolution and "survival of the fittest".
extensively, spending considerable time living with the island, coastal and inland
indigenous communities while he conducted his studies. He
recognised the extensive traditional knowledge these communities possessed
about the plants and wildlife. Many traditional communities
still use that knowledge to
create traditional medicines, to gather and to hunt food.
This traditional knowledge was
highlighted - at the BIMP-EAGA Business
Council's Manado conference in Oct/Nov 2009 - as an asset to
help generate a long-term, tourism based, income stream to
replace income generated from short-term environmentally
Tourism Council has
adopted the concept of Community-Based
Sustainable Ecotourism to help preserve the region's
cultural and natural heritage by developing viable tourism
operations to generate sustainable income for local communities. Tourism income
can replace food and income from more damaging practices,
and thereby help preserve the environment, the cultures and the
unique traditional knowledge about the wildlife and their
habitats. This has been
endorsed by the respective governments.
In addition to the
goal, the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council has proposed to adopt a set of guidelines and
criteria for Green Tourism in hotels and
tour operations throughout BIMP-EAGA. The project is
The opportunity to help preserve and
incredible cultural and
natural heritage was incorporated into the
concept of Community Based,
Sustainable Ecotourism (CBET) which has been adopted as
a key goal for tourism development in BIMP-EAGA.
Association of Travel Agents, Brunei (ATAB) took over the rotating
role as Chair of the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council (ie:
private sector tourism representative) for three years from
the Oct/Nov 2009 Manado conference. The Deputy Chair is now
rotated to Malaysia.
August 2009 BETC
meeting in Brunei - attended by national representatives,
along with Asian Development Bank and GTZ representatives,
Brunei's ATAB President - Hj Umar Mohammad - outlined goals for
ATAB's three year role as Chair of BETC:
Develop an eco-tourism standards and certification scheme for
which supports the CBET-and
Promote the sub-region's attractions - including it's
programmes - by establishing
Advance the development of tourism packages which include
activities and/or venues in two or more
member countries and
promote these at regional travel shows.
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