To ensure the perpetuity of the forest under its custody, the Group sets aside five unique ecosystems of conservation areas, namely Danum Valley, Maliau Basin, Imbak Canyon, Silam Coast and Taliwas River in the Yayasan Sabah Forest Management Area. It works closely with international bodies such as The Royal Society of United Kingdom, Nordic Rainforest Research Network (NRRN), Nature, Ecology and People Consult (NEPCon, Denmark), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SUAS), New England Power (NEP) Company, USA, Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development (DANCED) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia in facilitating rainforest research, education and training programmes. The Group also undertakes large scale tropical rainforest rehabilitation programmes in severely degraded forests with Face the Future, the Netherlands and IKEA, Sweden.
Locally, the Group works closely with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), Forest Research Centre (FRC), Sepilok, Academy Sciences Malaysia (ASM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), PETRONAS, Shell Malaysia, Raleigh Malaysia and many other organisations.
Much applied research is conducted on natural resource management and conservation of protected areas, including rehabilitation and plant improvement and utilisation.
Other than research, the conservation areas also serve as venues for environmental awareness, education and training.
FOREST REHABILITATION AND PLANT IMPROVEMENT
A total of 25,865 hectares have been rehabilitated through Innoprise-FACE Rainforest Rehabilitation Project (INFAPRO)
and Innoprise-IKEA Tropical Forest Rehabilitation Project (INIKEA)
. Both projects became a model of forest rehabilitation in this region. They have benefitted locals through employments, enhanced skills and experience as well as capacity building. Both projects have been accredited with global standards.
Innoprise-FACE Rainforest Rehabilitation Project (INFAPRO)
was initiated in July 1992 between Yayasan Sabah Group and the FACE (Forests Absorbing Carbon Dioxide Emissions) Foundation of The Netherlands (now known as Face the Future). Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the project sought to plant trees to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The project aims to rehabilitate 25,000 hectares (out of the total area 29,501 hectares) of a severely degraded forest with native species of dipterocarps, non-dipterocarps and forest fruit tree species through enrichment planting and tending of the natural regenerations existing in the logged forest. FACE-the-Future has also invested substantial funding into its research, training and development programme to establish techniques for the nursery activities and a suitable planting regime in the field.
Located in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, buffering the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu, Sabah, the project has successfully undergone least eight MoUs / contracts with more than 11,865 hectares of degraded forest rehabilitated since its inception.
INFAPRO has been certified with the Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS) by United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) in 2011 and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in 2012. INFAPRO is the first VCS AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use) certified forest project in Asia. More than 15 technical reports and 35 publications were produced with nine post-graduate studies completed.
Innoprise-IKEA Tropical Forest Rehabilitation Project (INIKEA)
, is a collaborative project initiated in 1998 between the Sow-A-Seed Foundation of IKEA, Sweden and Innoprise Corporation Sdn. Bhd., the investment arm of the Group. The objective of INIKEA project is to enhance biodiversity and assist the recovery of severely degraded forests caused by a wild forest fire (1982-1983). The project has rehabilitated more than 14,000 hectares of 19,870 hectares. This effort proves fruitful as families of Orang utan and Bornean gibbons, Borneo pygmy elephants and hornbills are frequently sighted living in the regenerated forest. The project has entered its fourth phase where another 1,600 hectares of the forest will be rehabilitated. The fourth phase of the collaboration involves a ten-year period (2015-2024) where the first five years is for the establishment and development phase and the remaining five years for maintenance. Through this project, more than 35 post-graduate studies have been completed.
INIKEA's high standards on workers and community rights, as well as its working conditions, have much impressed independent external auditors from the Rainforest Alliance (United States) when evaluating the project performance under its Smartwood Programme.
The project had also achieved another milestone when IKEA awarded it the IWAY Certificate in April 2007, a much sought-after certificate coveted by any IKEA partners for achieving high standards on issues related to the harsh environment, forestry, social and working conditions standards similar to ISO 1400-1.
BIODIVERSITY AND PROTECTED AREAS
Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA)
, a 43,892 hectares Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve, is one of Sabah's last strongholds of undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest. It is one of the world's oldest and richest lowland tropical forests. The richness and abundance of flora and fauna, are ideal natural laboratories for research on tropical forest ecology and conservation. Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC), a world-renowned scientific facility, was established in 1986 for research, education, training, and wilderness recreation.
Among the inhabitants of DVCA are 122 species of mammals, including ten species of primates such as the endangered Bornean Orangutan. Other large mammals include the Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Bornean Banteng, Bornean Sun Bear, Bornean Clouded Leopard, Bay Cat, Binturong and various species of Deer.
To date, DVCA has recorded 806 species of plants including 15 species of orchids and seven species of pitcher plants.
It is also home to 73 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians and more than 47 species of fish. A total of 339 species of birds have been recorded including the Red-Crowned Barbet, eight species of Pittas including the Pitta nympha
, and all eight species of Hornbills found in Borneo.
Activities at DVCA are guided by the Danum Valley Management Committee (DVMC), which comprises relevant State and Federal Government departments/agencies, institutions, academia, and NGOs.
In 1984, Danum Valley Management Committee and The Royal Society, United Kingdom embarked on a long-term research programme, under The Royal Society's South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP). The Danum Valley Management Plan initiated through the partnership was included in the framework of the Long Term Forest Management Plan (1984-2032).
To date, a total of 592 research projects have been completed or are in progress, many of them collaborative between Malaysian and overseas scientists. The research projects comprise of Post-Doctoral (166), PhD (186), Masters (94), Bachelors (45) and others (101).
The multitude of research projects conducted has earned Danum Valley as one of the three leading rainforest research centres in the world besides La Selva in Costa Rica and Barro Colorado Island in Panama.
Maliau Basin Conservation Area (MBCA)
also known as Sabah's Lost World, is a 58,840 hectares Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve and one of Malaysia's most exceptional wilderness areas with outstanding natural features such as the majestic seven-tiered Maliau Falls, breathtaking Takob-Akob Falls, Giluk Falls and many other spectacular waterfalls seamlessly warrants such an accolade.
Situated in the south-central of Sabah, the virtually self-contained ecosystem is drained by the Maliau River that flows out of a gorge in the south-east of the basin, joining the Kuamut River. It eventually forms one of the headwaters of the Kinabatangan River, Sabah's most vital and most significant waterway. Lake Linumunsut, Sabah's only non-oxbow lake set in lush lowland dipterocarp forest just outside and below the basin's steep northern rim.
Maliau's unusual forest types include the rare montane heath forest and lowland and hill dipterocarp forests dominated by majestic Agathis trees. The flora of Maliau is distinct and diverse, including at least ten species of pitcher plants, Rafflesia tengku-adlinii
and more than 150 species of orchids, several of which are new records for Sabah including the striking necklace orchid Coelogyne odoardi
, endemic to Borneo. MBCA is a tremendously valuable botanical resource. Over 1,800 species of plants are found here, including 41 species mentioned in The International Union for Conservation (IUCN) of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.
Along with the surrounding forests, it is home to 91 species of rare mammals such as Bornean Banteng, Bornean Clouded Leopard, Bornean Pygmy Elephant and Proboscis Monkey.
More than 278 species of birds include 20 Bornean endemic species namely Bulwer's Pheasant, Bornean Bristlehead, Blue-Headed Pitta, Black-Crowned Pitta and Bornean Banded Pitta recorded. It is also the home to more than 53 species of amphibians.
In 1999, a joint project was established between the Group and Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development (DANCED) then continued by Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) to formulate the first Strategic Management Plan for MBCA. Thus, securing the conservation of Maliau Basin for the benefit of Sabah, Malaysia and the international community as well as the establishment of the Maliau Basin Studies Centre (MBSC). Research/field activities resulted in 57 Technical Assistance Reports under the DANCED/DANIDA project.
The Centre provides facilities for researchers, visitors and Maliau Basin field staff. Basic accommodation facilities in the form of research stations/satellite camps, ranging from camping areas to well-equipped permanent camping grounds are available in and on the periphery of MBCA, namely Agathis, Nepenthes, Ginseng and Seraya are located along with a series of trails.
IKEA, Sweden also contributed funds for the conservation and Environmental Education (EE) activities of MBCA since 1998. With the funding, an EE complex which includes a hostel, classroom with junior laboratory facilities, as well as research stations, suspension bridges, rim observation tower and the Maliau Skybridge was constructed to facilitate research and education activities in MBCA. They also provided funds to organise environmental education programmes for the schools surrounding MBCA.
MBCA's unique and biodiversity-rich forests, surrounded by buffer zones and excellent facilities make it an ideal location for protected area management training.
Research activities in MBCA include The Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project, a collaboration between Sime Darby Foundation and The Royal Society's South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and other research collaboration activities with various institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
To date, over 359 researches have been completed or are in progress, comprising Post-Doctoral (63), PhD (89), Masters (105), Bachelors (31) and others (71).
The Group carries out the day-to-day management of MBCA on behalf of an inter-agency Maliau Basin Management Committee, including Sabah Forestry Department, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, UMS, and several other agencies.
For more information, please visit www.maliaubasin.org
Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA)
, situated north of Maliau Basin, covers an area of about 27,599 hectares area encompassing a sweeping 25 kilometres long valley and flanked by high sandstone ridges. ICCA is probably the most extensive contiguous pristine lowland dipterocarp forest left in Sabah.
At their highest point, the ridges exceeded 1,000 metres with the highest reaching 1,527 metres. There were numerous scenic waterfalls found in Imbak Canyon, including the 30 metres wide Imbak Falls.
ICCA has different types of forests; lowland dipterocarp forest and rare lower montane heath forest, a lower altitude version of kerangas
of Maliau Basin, with its particular magical world of small, slender trees, pitcher plants and orchids.
The area is rich in flora and fauna, including medicinal plants. Imbak Canyon is an essential botanical gene-bank for conservation and future forest rehabilitation. As a pristine forest, it also forms a vital component in the biodiversity corridor linking Maliau Basin to the south and Danum Valley to the east, as well as one of the headwaters for Sabah's longest river, the Kinabatangan.
Imbak Canyon differs from Danum Valley, and Maliau Basin in that communities live adjacent to the Canyon with the nearest village, Kg. Imbak is about 30 kilometres away from ICCA. Majority of the community surrounding Kg. Imbak consists of Sungai, Murut and Rumanau ethnic groups.
The Yayasan Sabah Group-PETRONAS Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership, which started in 2010 aims to promote ICCA as a Centre of Learning for the indigenous community in biodiversity conservation, gene-bank conservation as well as the exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials. Under the partnership, eight programmes were initiated namely Environmental Education, Public Awareness, Community Outreach, Research, Ethno-forestry Survey and Documentation, Capacity Building, the formulation of ICCA's first Strategic Management Plan and the establishment of the Imbak Canyon Studies Centre.
In 2009, ICCA was upgraded to a Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly. The Group carries out the day-to-day management of ICCA on behalf of an inter-agency Imbak Canyon Management Committee which also including the Sabah Forestry Department, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, and several other government 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 ICCA also include biodiversity value (particularly botanical) of forest over typical and ecologically limiting soils. This was illustrated by the discovery in 1992 of a new species of keruing, Dipterocarpus megacarpa
Imbak Canyon has rich plant biodiversity with over 600 species recorded to date, and this figure will multiply with further exploration and research. ICCA has recorded 81 species of mammals that include the Bornean Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Marbled Cat, Proboscis Monkey and Bornean Pygmy Elephant.
In ICCA, 26 species under The International Union for Conservation (IUCN) of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species were also discovered. ICCA is home to 245 species of birds. The assemblage is characterised by a mix of lowland and montane species including five bird species endemic to Borneo, six species of Pittas, all eight species of Hornbills found in Borneo and 20 species of Flycatchers.
Based on studies conducted, there is an abundance of wildlife species found in Imbak Canyon, making it a wildlife refuge and an ideal place for wildlife studies. It is also home to 22 species of fish and 155 species of amphibians.
A total of 75 studies in ICCA have been completed or in-progress comprising Post-Doctoral (3), PhD (9), Masters (13), Bachelors (37), and others (13).
For more information, please visit www.imbakcanyon-borneo.com.my
Silam Coast Conservation Area (SCCA)
lies within the Coral Triangle and the Sulu Sea. Its coastal forest fringes Darvel Bay which is one of the world's most fertile marine areas in terms of biodiversity and is part of a Priority Conservation Area of the Sulu - Sulawesi Marine Eco-region.
The area classified as Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve is approximately 2,770 hectares and comprises of Tumunong Hallu and Bangkuruan Mangrove Forest Reserves and the two nearby Tabun and Saranga islands.
To date, 138 species of plants have been recorded including the Vatica pauciflora, a possible new record for Sabah and about 63 types of mangroves and mangrove associated species where some are rare in Malaysia.
Among the preliminary wildlife species identified were resident and migratory birds. Approximately 60 species of birds have been observed in the area as well as 25 species of mammals such as the Long-Tailed Macaque, Western Tarsier, Barking Deer, Rusa unicolor
, Great Slaty Woodpecker, White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Rainbow Bee-Eater, Otter and Pacific Swallow including the endangered Proboscis Monkey.
The area is also blessed with beautiful beaches while certain parts are covered with mangrove trees. The montane ultramafic forest ecosystem of Mt. Silam behind it and the surrounding crystal-clear seawater and magnificent coral reefs at the front, besides its proximity to Lahad Datu town, about 15 kilometres away, SCCA is suitable for marine-based environmental education and recreational activities.
The Group collaborates with Shell Malaysia on the development of the Shell Reception and Information Building at SCCA.
Taliwas River Conservation Area (TRCA)
, previously known as Taliwas Camp by Sabah Forestry Department, is located about 36 kilometres from Lahad Datu town or 24 kilometres to the west of Silam Coast Conservation Area and some 45 kilometres east of Danum Valley Conservation Area.
TRCA covers a unique ultramafic and lowland forest area of about 9,546 hectares. In the mid-1970s to 1980s, some of the areas within TRCA had been treated either with agroforestry technique or silvicultural treatments through girdling and enrichment planting by the Sabah Forestry Department before its management was handed over to the Group in 1991.
TRCA, one of the earliest silvicultural treated areas, enriched with dipterocarps, is managed by the Group for research, education, training and eco-tourism. In 2012, the area was upgraded to Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve.
The presence of its natural logged-over forest, effortlessly trekked Taliwas Falls, coupled with soothing, refreshing clean jungle fresh air and crystal-clear water and fishes in Taliwas River made TRCA an ideal outdoor retreat venue for families gathering, students programmes and fans of outdoor recreation (picnic and camping) activities. Currently, TRCA is equipped with basic recreational infrastructures.
TRCA also boasts a beautiful, serene natural lake (Pandan Lake) frequented by birds, mammals and reptiles.