Safeguarding the Corridor of Life

GREETED by the sweet sound of nature, Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) transports you to a different world. Surrounded with lush greenery, you might wonder how this virgin rainforest remained unscathed throughout the years.With every step you take into this tropical treasure, it unveils secrets that will lure you deeper into its grounds.

Dubbed as the ‘Living Pharmacy’ in the heart of Sabah, ICCA is located in the central interior of Sabah just immediately to the north of Maliau Basin Conservation Area. The canyon is a 27,599 ha complex of rainforest habitats within a 25 km long valley, hemmed in on three sides by sandstone ridges.

At their highest point, the ridges exceed 1,000m with the highest reaching 1,128m.

ICCA is one of the largest contiguous pristine lowland dipterocarp forest left in Sabah.

According to Yayasan Sabah Director Datuk Sapawi bin Haji Ahmad, ICCA is named a botanical gene bank.

“ICCA has rich plant biodiversity with over 600 species recorded to date. ICCA is also home to mammal species with both lowland and montane species present in a limited geographic area.

“Among them, Orang utan, Proboscis monkey, Banteng and Borneo Pygmy elephant,” said Sapawi.

He also said Imbak Canyon was formerly part of the forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah Group.

“In 2003, Yayasan Sabah Group voluntarily designated ICCA as a conservation area for purposes of research, education, training and nature recreation.

“Six years later, in 2009, ICCA was upgraded to Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly,” Sapawi said.

“The day-to-day management of ICCA is carried out by Yayasan Sabah Group on behalf of an inter-agency Imbak Canyon Management Committee which also includes Sabah Forestry Department, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and several other agencies.

“ICCA is conserved both for its function as a gene – bank as well as in helping to protect the quality of our river system.”

The grounds for the protection of this unique area include biodiversity, particularly botanical diversity; geological including the scenic amenity associated with the site; and the neighbouring indigenous communities and the unique range of forest knowledge they possess – which as yet remains to be fully documented.

“The key conservation values for ICCA among others are its high biodiversity and endemism; in situ conservation of threatened species; undiscovered species; undisturbed functioning ecosystems; corridor of life and climate change refuge; monitoring climate change; natural monument and scenic amenity; basic resource needs for neighbouring indigenous communities; cultural and heritage values; and bio-prospecting reserve,” he said.

ICCA provides protection for a series of ecosystems ranging from lowland rainforest to lower montane forest – all are found within a relatively small geographical range – and provide a home to high biodiversity with early evidence of high endemism.

Many species found within the ecosystems afforded protection by ICCA are endangered and vulnerable.

Many species have also yet to be discovered and described as less than 50pc of ICCA’s 27,599ha has been explored to date.

“In addressing the ecosystems in ICCA, they are undisturbed and important in terms of maintaining and securing evolutionary processes – this has particular relevance given the ongoing climate change.”

ICCA is also a corridor of life and climate change refuge where it provides functional protection for part of the upper Kinabatangan catchment and compliments the conservation initiatives in the lower Kinabatangan i.e. to maintain a “corridor of life” along the river length through to the Sulu Sea. As such, protection is provided from coastal and lowland rainforests through to the montane forests in ICCA – and indeed MBCA,” said Sapawi.

During the most recent glacial episodes, central Borneo, including Sabah, provided sanctuary (refuge) for many species of flora and fauna. ICCA maintains the potential to provide a key site for refuge from impacts during contemporary and future climate change.

Species may move inland and upwards along an altitudinal gradient. ICCA also provides an important ‘stepping stone’ between lowland and montane forests, when viewed in terms of the larger conservation landscape.

The isolated and pristine nature of the site also makes it ideal for monitoring climate along a gradient of altitudes.

“As part of a landscape – combined with the ecosystems provided protection – ICCA is a feature of national and international importance and outstanding conservation value and on its own, qualifies to be considered a natural monument,” Sapawi added.

ICCA also provides scenic amenity within the broader conservation and national landscape.

Waterfalls within ICCA also provide local scenic amenity.

In addition, the protected area maintains the potential to satisfy the basic natural resource needs of the neighbouring communities – if the connection and intervening forest cover is maintained.

Similarly, ICCA provides protection for a range of cultural and heritage values, including ethno-botanical, for the neighbouring communities. Besides this, the protection provided by ICCA and its management areas secures the forest for bio-prospecting now and in the future – thus setting the scene for biodiversity conservation through bio-prospecting potentially with local community partners.


Source: Daily Express

Sabah passes 5 bills including on heritage conservation

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state assembly passed five bills related to heritage conservation, culture, biodiversity, railway and sewerage services today.

One of the bills tabled by State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi was the State Heritage Enactment 2017.

The proposed enactment seeks to make provisions for the conservation and perservation of state heritage, heritage site, and heritage object, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and for related matters.

“Sabah is a state with diverse ethnicity and culture as well as significance historical legacy that have become our pride. All these valuable treasures have attacted the attention of scholars, researchers and tourists.

“It is our duty to respect and protect them and for that reason the government is enacting the bill so the state heritage can be managed properly,” he said at the state assembly sitting.

Kamarlin said the existing Cultural Heritage Enactment (Conservation) 1997 covers only matters relating to tangible heritage, while care and protection aspects of integible heritage are not provided in the enactment.

“Procedures for gazetting and enforcemen powers are also not clearly defined. Therefore, this bill is aimed at improving the existing law by taking into consideration all categories of heritage and its importance,” he said.

In debating the bill, Junz Wong (Parti Warisan Sabah-Likas) porposed the proposed enactment to include protection of underwater cultural heritage.

This was following a controversial research undertaken by University Sabah Malaysia (UMS) in collaboration a local company Ugeens Berjaya Enterprise early this year.

The research focused on WW2 Japanese shipwrecks at popular diving sites in Usukan waters, where salvaging works on three wrecks were carried purportedly for UMS’ research

“We have seen the failure earlier Jan this year. This shows the importance of (having) this law,” said Wong.

In Jan, Ugeens Berjaya Enterprise commissioned a Chinese-registered dredging ship Chuan Hong 68 to conduct the salvaging works.

The process was brought to a halt after State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun instructed UMS to cease its research following concerns raised by the fishing and diving fraternity.

However, by then, the three wrecks sites, said to be teeming with marine life were later found to have been destroyed and the wrecks, missing.

Meanwhile, the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 tabled by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Ellron Alfred Angin seeks to introduce new sections and amend certain words and expression as well as inserting new ones to the enactment.

The amended enactment will come into operation on Jan 2 next year and may be cited as the Sabah Biodiversity (Amendment) Enactment 2017.

Another bill – Sabah Cultural Board Enactment 2017 – seeks to amend the 1996 enactment to widen the functions of the Board in conserving and preserving culture.

Tabled by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, the bill will include establishment of mechanism for cultural conservation and to add art galleries in the function to establish, maintain, coordinate, and promote cultural centres.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister cum State Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan also tabled the two proposed enactments.

The proposed Sewerage Services Enactment 2017 seeks to provide for and regulate sewerage services and for matters connected therewith, while the proposed Railways Enactment 2017 seeks to revise and reenact a new law relating to railways.


Source: New Straits Times

17 mln turtle hatchlings released to sea – Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: The RM1 million allocation for turtle conservation under the State Budget 2018 reflects the State Government’s seriousness in conservation efforts, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.Masidi said an estimated 17 million turtle hatchlings have been released to the sea since the government became involved in turtle conservation.

He said this at a press conference after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and Sabah Parks Board of Trustees yesterday.

Masidi said the signing of the MoU will enable Sabah Parks to receive continuous guidance in its publications from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, besides enhancing the cooperation between the two bodies in terms of the quality and types of books produced.

He said the cooperation between DBP and Sabah Parks have been established since 2004. To date, eight books authored by Sabah Parks staff have been published under the guidance of DBP.

The two bodies are also in the process of producing an encyclopedia on Sabah Parks that will enlighten readers on the biodiversity, conservation efforts and uniqueness in all the parks.

Masidi hoped that the natural treasures under Sabah Parks could be shared with Malaysians and even the international community through the publication of such books.

He said Sabah Parks was among the most successful government agencies not only in book publications, but also in terms of efforts to expand its activities on land and sea.

Sabah Parks is actively expanding the scope of marine parks to be gazetted, the latest being the Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat which is the largest marine park in Malaysia with an area close to one million hectares.

To date, Masidi said seven percent of the seas in Sabah, equivalent to two million hectares, have been gazetted as marine parks.

“Our goal is to increase (marine parks) to 10 percent as recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” Masidi said.

All these efforts were undertaken to achieve balance in progress and environmental conservation, he explained.

“This is clearly reflected in the (State) Budget 2018 by the Chief Minister, that we want conservation efforts and physical development to be carried out in parallel. Meaning to say that we can be a progressive state but also maintains the beauty and wonder of the environment in Sabah,” Masidi said.

The MoU was signed between Sabah Parks Board of Trustees chairman Datuk Seri Dr Tengku Zainal Adlin Bin Tengku Mahamood and DBP deputy director-general (policy) Datuk Haji Abang Sallehuddin bin Abg Shokeran.

Also present were Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministers Datuk Pang Yuk Ming and Datuk Kamarlin Ombi, and Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais.


Source: Borneo Post

Beautiful Sabah 3.0 contest attracts int’l participants

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board’s Beautiful Sabah 3.0 online photography and video contest, ended on October 8 and attracted participation from eleven countries through social media.

The countries were Australia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Philippines, UK and Malaysia.

This is the third edition of the contest and has the most submissions from overseas.

A total of 800 photographs and 15 videos were submitted during the two-month online contest.

“The participation from most (of the) international countries is through the power of social media. Through social media, every post shared can lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of Sabah Tourism Board at the prize presentation ceremony, yesterday.

Winners of the competition were presented with their prizes yesterday at Sabah Tourism Board by Joniston, who urged the participants to use their talents and skills to keep promoting Sabah through their lenses and video making skills.

Also present at the event were general manager of Sabah Tourism Board Gordon Yapp, deputy general manager (support services) Noredah Othman and communications manager Hana S. Harun

The top five winners of the photography competition were Tsen Lip Kai, Rustam Razali, Clement Liew, Tirado Jupirin and Mohd Erwin Mohd Ussdek, and the top five winners of the video competition were Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong, Leon Kuan, Danny Daniel Nguai, Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong and Ivan Ong Jian Hau.

The Beautiful Sabah 3.0 sponsorship, worth about RM15,000 were from the private sector, namely the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort,  Sutera Harbour Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Grandis Hotel and Resorts, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Techfix, Canon Marketing (Malaysia), Syarikat Percetakan Suria, Toppoint Company Sdn Bhd, Ebiz Design & Communications, and Videographics Productions Sdn Bhd.


Source: Borneo Post

Heart of Borneo to be promoted as world class ecotourism destination

KOTA KINABALU: The next phase for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in Sabah will be to promote HoB as world class ecotourism destination.

Sabah’s Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Sector Planning), Frederick Kugan, said a total of 37 ecotourism sites have been identified, including nine community-based tourism sites.

He said the move was important to create economy for the community and tapping into the tourism sector to support conservation efforts in the State.

“This is done through the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) conservation finance strategy,” Frederick said in his presentation at the International Conference on HoB here yesterday.

The two-day event, themed ‘A Decade of HoB Initiative: Accomplishments and the Way Forward’, began yesterday at Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort here.

For the past 10 years, Frederick said the Sabah Forestry Department had been focusing on the maintenance of forest connectivity through strengthening of the protected areas network, and establishment of sustainably managed forest corridors connecting these areas.

“Sabah can be proud that we have achieved greatly in terms of increasing Total Protected Areas (TPAs) by 1 million hectares to 1.9 million hectares from 2007 to 2017.”

He said the initiative had also garnered support from partners to the tune of RM100 million through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

He said the HoB project had received RM38 million funding from the Federal Government thus far, while there was still RM27.5 million remaining from the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

Frederick said the next phase of HoB in Sabah would be to look at how to achieve the target of gazetting the remaining four per cent, or 300,000 hectares as TPAs by 2025.

“It can come from forest reserves, state lands and maybe from existing titles or communities.”

He said the Sabah Forestry Department would be engaging with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to identify critical areas important for protection and areas good for rehabilitation or restoration.

He said the Sabah’s land use in the future might also evolve over time.

Frederick said this might lead to land swap to better enhance protected areas and to retain at least 50 per cent forest cover in the State.

“With all the conservation measures undertaken in Sabah, we believe that there will be at least no net loss or net gain in terms of biodiversity in the State.”

He added that the HoB initiative in Sabah would also be consolidating forest management enterprise (FME) initiative and targeting key sectors in sustainable resource management.

Under the Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (JCSPO) 2025 initiative, there is a first five-year work plan to identify high conservation value forests, address Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and catalogue smallholders within the palm oil sectors.

Frederick also stressed the need to expand the influence of HoB and linking up the various conservation efforts in the State such as the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, Klias Peninsular Wetlands, Kinabatangan Corridor of Life, LSKW Ramsar Site and Coral Triangle Initiative Project.

On the other hand, Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh shared how the idea of HoB came about in his keynote address.

He said it all started at a WWF Asia-Pacific CEOs meeting in Phuket, Thailand in October 2000.

“The idea was to connect up a big enough area to conserve a really representative chunk of Borneo’s rainforest in perpetuity.”

He said WWF Malaysia was then asked to lead the development of the ‘Borneo Forest Initiative’, the first priorities being to secure funding and develop the concept.

“We established small teams in the Malaysia and Indonesian WWF offices. One of my jobs was to get start-up fund.”

Kavanagh said the Malaysian and Indonesian teams quickly got down to working together.

During the first meeting in Singapore, he said WWF Indonesia corrected a conceptual mistake, that there was too much focus on the protected areas and not the overall context.

“We broadened our focus towards sustainability in the surrounding landscape.”

Meanwhile, Kavanagh said support was growing slowly in the WWF network until, at the suggestion of WWF United States, the Borneo Forest Initiative was rebranded as The Heart of Borneo, or HoB.

He said WWF Indonesia then initiated a workshop at Putussibau in West Kalimantan, hosted by the regency government.

“First and foremost, there are three countries on Borneo. What about Brunei?”

In this respect, Kavanagh said three people, namely the Brunei High Commissioner in London, Dato’ Yussof Hamid, WWF Diplomatic Advisor Guilda Navidi-Walker and WWF United Kingdom Conservation Director Francis Sullivan took their own initiative to get Brunei on board.

Later, Stuart Chapman joined the team as the HoB International Coordinator based in Jakarta.

“At this point, the team put a lot of effort into convincing allies and decision-makers on the various values of HoB.”

He said the pace really picked up from the beginning of 2005.

This led to the HoB workshop in Brunei held in April 2005 with government representatives from the three countries, WWF, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and scientists, where they drew up a vision statement.

The vision for the HoB is that partnerships at all levels ensure effective management and conservation of a network of protected areas, productive forests and other sustainable land uses. Borneo’s magnificent heritage is thereby sustained forever.

“The leaders for the governments’ teams at the April 2005 workshop were united in conveying their governments’ support for the initiative.”

Thanks to former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi, Kavanagh said the ASEAN heads of government accepted the importance of conserving the forests and other natural resources of the HoB at their summit in Kuala Lumpur, December 2005.

HoB was accepted as a flagship programme of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) at the same summit.

On February 12, 2007, the ministers responsible for forestry in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia signed the landmark declaration on the HoB Initiative in Bali.

Kavanagh arrived in Malaysia in 1978 to coordinate the Malaysian Primates Research Programme for Cambridge University with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

He then spent 25 years with WWF Malaysia, starting with assisting Sarawak Forest Department to establish new protected areas, and later 16 years as national CEO through 2006.

In 2000, Kavanagh proposed that WWF explored the idea of creating transboundary protected areas along the Indonesia/Malaysia border, with Brunei joining in later that eventually became HoB.

Source : Borneo Post