Kuching, Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - SARAWAK FORESTRY today issued a statement on swiftlets farming in Sarawak.
In Sarawak, edible bird nests industry has a long history of traditional and intimate involvement of local communities; at least 150 years old. Since 1998, sustainable harvest of wild bird nests population from natural caves has been introduced. This effort, not only stop the decline of the wild swiftlets population but also substantially increase some colonies in example in the case of middle Baram, Bukit Sarang and Niah Cave.
This natural resources has benefited the local communities who are licensed to collect edible bird nests from the natural caves. Economic wise, it has become a sustainable income to the local communities and swiftlets population are able to be managed sustainably.
According to SARAWAK FORESTRY, under Section 19 in the Wildlife Protection Rules, 1998 it is stated that "no person shall establish, own or maintain a commercial wild life farm without a license issued by the Controller".
The spokesman advised that under Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Ordinance, 2003, it is clearly stated that "No person shall, without a license from the Controller, build, erect, maintain or set up any building or structure for the purposes of harbouring, or providing facilities or environment for, swiftlets to make or create nests thereon with a view to collecting and taking edible birds´ nests for sale or trade".
Commercial wild life farm includes a place, premises, ranch or estate where wildlife is reared, bred, grown, or maintained for trade or sale or other commercial purposes, but exclude a livestock farm licensed under the Natural Resources and Environment (Control of Livestock Pollution) Rules, 1996.
It is important to note said the spokesman that, all swiftlets including all species of Aerodrarnus, Hydrochous and Collocalia are protected under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 thus whether the swiftlets are in urban areas or not, the Ordinance still applies.
SARAWAK FORESTRY acknowledges that edible bird nests (i.e: farming) are lucrative business, because the edible bird nests is an export commodity and valuable. In the past few years, swiftlets farming experienced rapid expansion in Sarawak and Sarawak´s State Cabinet is not opposing the development of swiftlets farming industries provided that it is done in healthy manner, on agriculture land.
This is evident in Rules 18(a) & (b), The Wild Life Protection (Edible Birds´ Nests) (Ammendment) Rules, 2006 which allow for swiftlets farming to exclude:
- within an area or land cleared to be town land under section 11(1) of the Land Code [Cap. 81 (1958 Ed.)]; or
- within an area of land declared to be town land under section 11(1) of the Land Code [Cap. 81 (1958 Ed.)] unless the special condition of the title for the land allows it to be used for agriculture and written approval has been obtained from Superintendent of Land and Surveys of the Division for the erection of the building to be used for swiftlets farming.
In this instance, operating in shop lots at any building is a violation of these Rules. On the use of shop lots by swiftlets farmers, said the spokesman, according to their expert, it is not conducive in the long run for swiftlets apart from the speakers used to imitate the swiftlets chirping sound can prove to be a nuisance to the surrounding communities when the volume is amplified. In addition to that, he said that though swiftlets roost in the building as in the case of farming in shop houses, inevitably its droppings still have the tendency to land outside their premises.
Furthermore, without proper technique and out of ignorance, water ponds installed in these shop houses can produce obnoxious smells when huge amount of swiftlets droppings fell in it.
However, swiftlets farming is permissible via the approval and license issued by Controller and subject to related rules and regulation stated in the license thereof.
The spokesman said that "there are success stories of swiftlets farming in rural areas/ agriculture land when done in proper manner and in accordance with prescribed rules and regulations stated under the Ordinance. This should be the way forward". The notion that swiftlets farming in rural areas are not prosperous is not true because there are equally large number of unsuccessful swiftlets farming in shop lots. The success depend very much on technique and know-how of this industry.In conclusion, the State Government encourages swiftlets farming established legally with license approved by the Controller and done in rural areas or agriculture land, which adheres to related rules and regulations.