Malaysia: Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has launched a new interactive internet-based geoportal that would help track use and misuse of any land in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. “The site has Sarawak’s confidential official maps, detailed information on land use changes and rainforest destruction in Malaysia’s largest state,” said Lukas Straumann, BMF director. A large database containing hitherto confidential 1:50,000 topographic maps of Sarawak have been uploaded online with the launching of the comprehensive Sarawak Geoportal.
The online tool includes an overview of concessions granted for logging and palm-oil plantations as well as raw data on the rapid deforestation of Sarawak. Important geographic data on Sarawak, such as the exact location of villages, roads, rivers, the use of land and vegetation types are freely available to public scrutiny. The Sarawak Geoportal, which is based on data digitised over five years by BMF helps understand the environmental, social and political developments in Sarawak and that data can be overlaid with Google topographic and satellite maps. “All this information should have been made public by the Sarawak government long ago. The data had been deliberately shut away in order to facilitate the land grabbed by the political elite under outgoing Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. We expect that the next government will release all relevant land use data to the public. The importance of public access to environmental information has been recognised by the United Nations’ Aarhus Convention,” added Straumann.
Source: Free Malaysia today