For almost 20 years, he has been working with the Sabah Wildlife Department to ensure the perpetuity of wildlife and habitat through protected areas, and to ensure that any utilisation of wildlife is sustainable – including in the Heart of Borneo.
Encouraging milestonesSeveral milestones suggest that he has come closer to fulfilling this ambitious mission. Increased public conservation awareness, new laws to protect wildlife and the environment, more conservation areas set aside by governments mark out the road taken so far.
A question of balanceBut some other developments have been much less favourable he notes, conceding that, "land-use changes cannot be avoided for the sake of socio-economic development of the people and the country." Getting the balance right between people’s legitimate needs of access to natural resources, and protecting high biodiversity forests, is notoriously tricky.
The solution is to band efforts. Laurentius says, "as important stakeholders in the conservation and management of biodiversity, I feel that the collaboration with WWF is vital to ensure that the objectives of the Heart of Borneo programme are achieved." He admits however that it will take more to see the Heart of Borneo programme through.
A major test
What is the greatest challenge of the Heart of Borneo programme? For Laurentius, a major test will be the "the commitment of the policy makers to implement programmes under the initiative."
In fact, if he had US$ 100,000 in unrestricted funding, his first priority would be to conduct an awareness programme for policy-makers, to make them understand the importance of conserving biodiversity.
Rewards of the jobIn the mean time, Laurentius contents himself with the rewards of his job, such as "being able to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in Sabah for present and future generation."
And that’s already quite something.