The first batch of 21 honorary rangers, comprising mostly villagers, received their appointment letters and ranger bush jackets in a ceremony at Promenade Hotel here.
Sabah Parks Chairman Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin, who officiated at the event, said the first batch of honorary rangers would assist rangers at the Crocker Range Park (CRP), Kinabalu Park and Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
"Sabah Parks is facing an ever increasing responsibility and challenges in managing and protecting fully the eight parks under its jurisdiction throughout the State," he said.
"If combined, the size of whole parks under Sabah Parks management represents 3.7 per cent of the total size of SabahÉat the same time, we also face a problem of shortage of enforcement manpower for protecting the entire parks," he added.
He said the Sabah Parks management decided to set up the honorary rangers unit because it acknowledged that the local community could play an important role and contribution as its eyes and ears.
The honorary rangers unit is a "pilot project" that would be reviewed of its effectiveness after two years, said Adlin, adding the programme would be expanded further to other parks if proven to have positive impact in protecting and increasing awareness among people living around the three chosen parks.
He hoped with the implementation of the honorary park rangers the local community can get direct access to relevant information and explanation relating to Parks management policies and regulations.
This is apart from being able to attract interest and collaboration from more members of the local community to protect and conserve biodiversity resources within the Sabah Parks conservation areas.