Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rhino heroes earn kudos

They work at a remote rainforest, spending extended periods away from home determined to do their bit to save the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros through a captive breeding programme.

It is this dedication that led Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) field staff who work under overall supervision of the Sabah Wildlife Department, to assist Department staff in finally capturing elusive female rhino Puntung at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve last month.

Pending tests, Puntung is potentially a mate for Tam, a rhino that walked out of a forest and into a plantation in 2008, and who is now housed at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) captive breeding interim facility in Tabin, over an hour by road from here.

The BORA Management Board led by its chairman Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad on Friday presented 21 field staff with certificates of appreciation, applauding them for their hard work and willingness to live in a rural location away from family for long periods.

“The successful capture of Puntung required various types of resources, and effort. The most important of all was the hard work over months and years among people working on the ground. Our staff worked at all times in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department staff in Tabin.

“At any one time, BORA alone had about 20 people involved one way or another in the capture of Puntung as well as the care of rhinos Tam and Gelogob who were already at the interim facility.

“On behalf of the BORA management, I express my sincere thanks to the staff for their dedication over the past two years. Without their effort, today we would not have Puntung,” Abdul Hamid said in a Press release issued by BORA.

BORA is a non-governmental organisation that is currently assisting the Sabah Wildlife Department in the development of the BRS, a programme of the Sabah Government that kicked-off in 2009 to prevent the extinction of rhinos in Sabah through captive breeding.

The BRS programme aims to bring rhinos from non-viable situations where the mammal exists but is not breeding, to a facility that will maximise chances for reproductive success.

Abdul Hamid said BORA staff are also involved in patrolling and guarding the general area, building and monitoring traps, caring for rhinos and carrying out administrative duties and management of assets.

“Tremendous self discipline is needed to stick with this sort of work and to maintain a harmonious environment,” Abdul Hamid who is also Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation director, said.

BORA field staff Justine Segunting, 33, said he was proud to receive the certificate and sees it as a recognition that will further encourage him and his colleagues to work on rhino conservation.

“It took us almost two years to find Puntung. I was one of the first staff to see her, and nothing can describe how I felt at that time.

“We worked around the clock from when Puntung was found on Dec 18 (last year) to when she was brought to the interim facility on Christmas day. We sacrificed our Christmas leave, as we could not go home to celebrate, but it does not matter,” Segunting who is from Telupid, about 200km from here, said.
Segunting said he has worked in the forest for eight years including with another NGO and cannot see himself doing anything else.

“This job is my best experience and is something I am passionate about. The survival of rhinos is at stake, and I want to play my part in saving the species,” he said.

Rajimah Kasran, 26, one of only two women involved in field work said it was a relief that Puntung was not captured by poachers who prize rhino horn for traditional medicine.

“We have been tracking Puntung for years and we were worried that poachers might get her. I am so glad that she is now with us and doing well in the interim facility,” she said.

Rajimah of Kampung Dagat in the Segama area, only returns home about five times a year despite monthly leave as all she can think of is her work in rhino conservation.

“When I first started working in Tabin in 2004 through another NGO, I did not know anything about rhinos or why we needed to protect them. Now, all I think about is what I can do to help prevent extinction of rhinos,” she said.

The Sumatran rhino is amongst the most endangered species in the world, and needs urgent and sustained action to prevent its extinction. It is listed as a totally protected mammal under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Apart from one female in Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, all breeding female rhinos of this species are now known to exist only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
To date, core funding for development and operation of the BRS has come primarily from the Sime Darby Foundation and from the Government, with extra help from WWF-Germany.

Green Sabah says:  The Sumatran Rhino currently only exist in Sumatra and Borneo and its a species that is slowly going extinct. We must take urgent actions in order to preserve them and a good job to all who are involved in protecting and preserving the Rhinoceros.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Support a Semporna Shark Sanctuary and the Future of Our Oceans!

Semporna, Malaysia is home to many species of shark, from the extremely rare and elusive Borneo and hammerhead shark to the largest fish in the sea, the graceful whale shark.

A third of all shark species are nearly extinct. Some species of sharks such as the hammerhead have declined by up to 90% in the last 50 years. Sharks are an apex predator and have been around for over 400 million years and have maintained prey diversity and shaped the coral reef systems into what we see today. Without them the marine biodiversity as we know it would collapse.

Sharks are being systematically wiped out around the world and an extinction of many species is very likely in the coming years if current fishing trends and attitudes towards this beautiful and misunderstood creature don't change, and change fast. In Sabah and Semporna, many species are encountered on a daily basis. We are one of the lucky places that can still say that we can 'prevent' their decline instead of having to 'reintroduce and rehabilitate.'

By signing this petition in support of a Semporna Shark Sanctuary you are not only signing for the future of these incredible creatures for future generations, but securing the health of one of the most bio-diverse marine eco systems in the world and the future economy for the thousands of people who make a daily living from eco tourism in the area. Thanks for your support. 

Source: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-a-semporna-shark-sanctuary-and-the-future-of-our-oceans/

Green Sabah says: Do support this petition! Let us play our part in conserving the bio-diverse marine ecosystems. Simple action for positive results.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shangri-La joins fight against shark fin soup

Luxury hotel chain Shangri-La has announced it will stop serving shark fin at its 72 properties worldwide, as the campaign to protect the marine predators gains ground among Chinese consumers.

The Hong Kong-based group said it would cease serving shark fin in all of its restaurants as well as accepting new orders for shark fin products in banqueting with immediate effect, under a “sustainable seafood policy”.

Shark fin soup is viewed by many Asians as a delicacy, and is traditionally served at wedding parties and business banquets in Hong Kong, which handles around 50 per cent of the global shark fin trade.

Shangri-La said it would also phase out Bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass, which are under threat of extinction, at all restaurants within the year.

“The new policy is a continuation of Shangri-La’s journey towards environmental support,” the hotel chain said in a statement late yesterday.

“Shangri-La will continue to review and refine its overall programmes including environmental and sustainability issues.”
The announcement came two months after Hong Kong-based Peninsula Hotels group said it would stop selling shark fin from this year, in a move hailed as a breakthrough for shark conservation.

Peninsula said the decision was made in view of the threat facing the global shark population, which scientists believe is essential to the overall health of the seas.
Shangri-La’s move also comes just before Chinese New Year, which falls on Monday, when shark fin will be in higher than normal demand for festive banquets throughout Asia.
About 73 million sharks are killed every year, with Hong Kong importing about 10,000 tonnes a year for the past decade, according to environmental group WWF.

More than 180 shark species were considered threatened in 2010, compared with only 15 in 1996.
WWF Hong Kong conservation programme officer Silvy Pun said the hotels were responding to falling demand for shark meat.
“Obviously this is a very positive development,” she told AFP today. “The hotels are contributing to shark conservation; they are leading the catering sector in Hong Kong to change.
“Their action reflects the market is changing and the falling demand for shark fin products. We are making a big step here so I urge other businesses to follow suit.”

The campaign has also received a boost in Singapore, after French retail giant Carrefour and the mainly ethnic Chinese city state’s largest supermarket chain, NTUC FairPrice, said this month they would no longer stock shark fin.

“More and more young couples have decided not to have shark fin on their wedding banquet menu,” Hong Kong marine conservation group Bloom project coordinator Stanley Shea said.

Other international hotel groups that continue to sell shark fin soup include Four Seasons, Hilton, Nikko and Regal, citing the traditional aspect of the expensive dish to Chinese customers.

But a Bloom survey last year showed that some 78 per cent of Hong Kong respondents considered it socially acceptable to leave shark fin soup off the menu at a wedding banquet. — AFP

Source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/food/article_food/shangri-la-joins-fight-against-shark-fin-soup/

Green Sabah says: This happens in Hong Kong, even the luxury hotel with 72 locations world wide has now joined us to fight against Shark Fin trade. Personally, I'm glad that such a big company has started to take the initiative to stop Shark Fin trades and this means that more companies will soon join in the fight. As a consumer, you can do your part by not consuming any shark dishes, starting from this Chinese New Year. Happy Chinese New Year for all those celebrating, have a shark-free year. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sabah to have nation’s first ‘green’ library in three years

Sunday, 21st August 2011
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah can boast of having the nation's first environmentally-friendly library in three years.

The new city library adjacent to the scenic Perdana Park at Tanjung Aru here will incorporate the latest environmentally-friendly features including using less electricity.

Sabah State Library director Wong Vui Yin said the structure that would incorporate the motifs of Sabah's ethnic communities would also be designed to require minimum maintenance.

“Our aim is also to make the library a stress-free environment. One of the approaches is to make the architecture and landscaping blend with the surroundings,” he said yesterday.

In addition, the building would be soundproofed apart from being user-friendly for the young and those with physical disabilities.

He said the RM36mil library would be constructed on a 1.2ha site.

Once completed in 2014, the six-storey structure would have a total floor space of over 5,000sq metres.

On Wednesday, State Assistant Minister of Community Development and Consumer Affairs Datuk Herbert Timbon Lagadan said the new library was to replace the 35-year-old building in the city centre that would be demolished as it was unsafe.

Herbert said the current library would be temporarily relocated to a rented area at the Suria Sabah mall until the completion of the new building.

The current site would be handed over to the Judicial Department for the expansion of the Kota Kinabalu court complex, Herbert added.

A group of social activists had spoken out against plans to demolish the library as the facility was located in a strategic area and was convenient to the public.

Source: http://www.ecoknights.org.my/component/content/article/22/1244-sabah-to-have-nations-first-green-library-in-three-years.html 

Green Sabah says: This article was published in 2011, therefore Sabah and nation's first environmentally-friendly library is expected to have in two more years time. It shows that Sabah State Government is very supporting in promoting the green efforts. It is a positive sign! To be located near the Perdana Park at Tanjung Aru, this will not only encouraging the people to read but also to exercise in the same time. Apart from being an environmental-friendly library, it is a user-friendly too. Can't wait to have this library to be completed! :)

Borneo elephants as protected species

Those who kill Borneo elephants will now face a mandatory jail term as part of Sabah’s efforts to upgrade its conservation of the animal.

State Tourism, Culture and En­­vironment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the elephant was classified as a totally protected species under its wildlife laws.

“This means that as far as our elephants are concerned, if you kill, you go to jail,” he said when closing a wildlife conference here yesterday.

The conference was jointly organised by the state’s Wildlife Depart­ment and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
Light moment: Masidi (centre) chatting with Australian Senator Nick Xenophon (left) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman Datuk Seri Shahrir Abdul Samad (right) during the closing ceremony of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium (SWCC) in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Under the totally protected classification, those convicted of killing the animals will be liable for a mandatory jail term of up to five years.

Previously, those convicted of killing these animals, which were listed only as protected, were liable to a fine of up to RM30,000 or three years in default or both.

Masidi said the state was also finalising its draft of a request to the Federal Government to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit the hunting of sharks in Malaysian waters.

“We hope that with such changes, we won’t see the sale of shark’s fin in this country soon,” he added.
On concerns that the state’s agricultural sector was impacting the environment, Masidi said: “We know we are blessed with an abundance of natural assets and we are determined to protect them.

“But Sabah, too, has its peculiarities and among these is that we are dependent on agriculture to eradicate poverty.

“So, you can criticise us but please see our side of the story, too.”

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife De­­partment director Laurentius Ambu said among the consensus reached at the conference, which was atten­ded by conservationists and oil palm industry representatives, was the need to push zero tolerance for wildlife killing.

“If companies would make it clear to their staff that they would be fired if they were found to be killing wildlife illegally, this could be a highly effective tool,” said Laurentius, adding that such an approach should be taken for protected species.

He said participants also highlighted the need for the maintenance of forest corridors in plantations.
“If such corridors no longer exist, these should be re-established wherever possible. It is, however, recognised that corridor establishment is expensive and challenging, and needs to be done together with other management tools,” he added.

GreenSabah says: With the mandatory jail term, this will definitely help protect our elephants. Companies should ensure that their workers knew this rule to prevent them from killing wildlife, which not only harm the protected animals, but it is also illegal as well.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Keeping Malaysia clean and green

The 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean Campaign or 1MG1MC, was launched on July 18, 2010 by Minister of Tourism, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. A brilliant and innovative tourism campaign, the 1MG1MC aims to instil a cleanliness mindset among Malaysians, particularly at tourist spots.

It is also to create an awareness of the importance of keeping tourist spots clean and to inculcate in the mind of Malaysians the importance of preserving the beauty and cleanliness of the country.

Through campaigns such as 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean, the Ministry of Tourism believes it will help the ministry to answer the call by the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The government aims to improve the tourism industry which would provide 2.7 million jobs in the industry by 2015.

In ensuring the success of the 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean campaign, the Ministry of Tourism has been working closely with four other ministries – Ministry of housing and Local Government, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of education and Ministry of Nature Resources and environment.

Apart from collaborating with the ministries, the campaign has also involved several non-governmental organisations, the private sector, Kelab Pelacongan Pelajar and Kuala Lumpur City hall to participate in some of the campaign programmes.

To enhance the success of the campaign, the Ministry of Tourism has also launched the www. 1malaysiagreenandclean. com.my website which is an integral part of the campaign. It highlights and addresses issues pertaining to clean or dirty tourist spots.

The website enables the public and tourists to upload pictures of any spots, especially tourist areas which are clean or those that need upkeeping.

Among the activities and programmes under the 1Malaysia Green and 1Malaysia Clean campaign are:

* Plan A Tree project at homestays registered with the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia. This project is to encourage foreign tourists to plant a tree at the homestay before leaving for their country.

* “Gotong-royong” activities at tourist spots. l Collaborating with food and drinks associations and hawkers to implement a “Cleanest hawker Stall” competition.

* Collaborating with taxi associations and organising a “Cleanest Taxi” contest and ensuring knowledgeable and respectable drivers.

* Organising a “Cleanest Mall” competition. l Collaboration with Giant hypermarket to place the 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean campaign logo on Giant shopping bags.

* A special TV programme for children that will feature “Mr Bin” to emphasise to children the importance of keeping the environment clean.

* Collaborating with print and electronic media to publicise the “1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean” campaign.

* Collaborating with highway companies to distribute 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean stickers at selected toll plazas and R&R (rest and relax) areas to increase awareness of the campaign.

* Organising a “Spot the ‘1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean’ car stickers” competition.

Source: http://kepkas.sabah.gov.my/2012/01/13/keeping-malaysia-green-and-clean/

Green Sabah says: The 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean Campaign (1MG1MC) is a brilliant effort in implementing cleanliness awareness among Malaysians, especially in places that a tourist attraction. This campaign not only requires the cooperation of certain bodies, but it is everyone's responsibility to ensure the success of this campaign. Hopefully this campaign will show positive results and boost the tourism industry in our country.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sabah’s five-year Action Plans

Sabah’s five-year Action Plans for the State’s keystone species, orang-utan, elephant and rhino will be officially launched at the opening of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium (SWCC) here Monday.

The SWCC is jointly organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and aims to bring together the governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and private companies including the oil palm and tourism sector.

In addition, five Memoranda of Understanding will also be signed by the SWD with various partners at the event to be held at the Le Meridien Hotel.

According to the SWCC Secretariat, 250 people including international participants have registered to attend the Colloquium over a two-day period.

The Colloquium will address wildlife issues in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia as well as the role of funding from corporate and non-corporate bodies in wildlife conservation.

This is the second wildlife conference co-organised by both parties since the 2009 Orang-utan Conservation Colloquium held at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria in Tuaran.

The organisers recently paid a courtesy call on Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun to brief him on the SWCC at his office.

GreenSabah says: A good effort to bring all walks of life together to enhance the move on preserving the wildlife in Sabah. No matter the government, non governmental organizations and citizens all played an important part in protecting the environment.

Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary begin operation in mid 2012

The Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary in Kinabatangan will begin operation by the middle of this year.
Sabah Wildlife Director, Dr. Laurentius Ambu, said 2,000 hectares of land have been allocated to provide shelter and rehabilitate rescued Borneo pygmy elephants.

“We do not intend to house all the (rescued) elephants there. We will keep the animals there for treatment and then we will release them back into the wild,” he told reporters after the opening of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium 2012 here yesterday.

The colloquium was opened by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
Ambu said for a start, 20 elephants would be given shelter for treatment and rehabilitation once the sanctuary is operational.

He said there are 60 to 100 elephants of the pygmy species to be located and rescued using satellite tracking. The pygmy elephant is a smaller kind of the elephant species. They are considered endangered and about 2,000 remain in Sabah.

The sanctuary will be operated by the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, and consists of a rescue facility and a research and education division.

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun has urged people in the state, particularly players in the oil palm industry, to help the government in protecting wildlife and the biodiversity.

He said, lately, the natural habitats of wildlife such as elephants, rhinos and orang utans have become increasingly threatened and smaller in size.

“This is due to the growth of human population that requires more space and food. Widespread activity of clearing forests for various development purposes have also contributed to decreasing wildlife habitat.

“In order to solve this problem, the Wildlife Department with the support of the Malaysia Palm Oil Council and Borneo Conservation Trust as well as non-government organisations like the Hutan-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme and the Danau Girang Field Centre have organised the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium,” he said.

By the year 2025, the population in Sabah is expected to grow up to 30 per cent to reach 4.2 million.
“I do not want to think that at the same time, we will face a drop of 30 per cent in wildlife population,” said Masidi.
The two-day Colloquium attracted delegates from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, United Kingdom, United States and Australia.

Meanwhile, Dompok has urged the Malaysian oil palm industry to collaborate with the state government in implementing the Species Action Plan, particularly for the conservation and rehabilitation of Sabah’s three iconic species – the orang utan, the Borneo pygmy elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros.

“I am optimistic that, with the cooperation of all the parties, the oil palm industry can co-exist in a sustainable manner with the environment, particularly in Sabah,” he said.

Source: http://newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/55179 

Green Sabah says: Hope that the Oil Palm industry within the state will give cooperation to the State government to help conserve and rehabilitate the Orang Utan, Pygmy Elephants and Sumatran Rhinos to prevent them from going extinct. It is possible to transform our local industry to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Praises on Sabah's move to ban shark trade

Sabah's bold decision to restrict the shark fin trade next year moved an individual so much that he decided to write a thank you letter, and got more than a dozen concerned Malaysians to put their signatures on it.
Datuk Michelle Yeoh is one of those who think that Sabah has done the right thing, and gladly put her signature on a letter of thanks drafted by Kirk Lee, founder of the Save Our Sharks From A Bowl Of Soup movement.

The letter, a copy of which was made available to The Star, was sent to the state government on Monday and was addressed to its Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
Other than Yeoh, other names on the letter include former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, Petaling Jaya Mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman, model Amber Chia, actor Patrick Teoh, producer Nell Ng and deejay Xandria Ooi.

A swimming instructor, Lee told The Star that the letter was meant as a reminder to Sabah that the world is watching whether the state will make good its pledge by amending its relevant laws to prohibit the capture of sharks and trading of their fins in the state.

A recreational diver, Lee described himself as a “typical Chinese who loves good food”, until he saw a video that stunned him on how his bowl of shark fin soup was made.
Like Lee, Ooi's “conversion” was no less dramatic.“I was in high school when I found out how shark fins were harvested and it completely bewildered me as to why humans would go to great lengths of cruelty just to serve a dish in a restaurant.“If we think about it logically, there is absolutely no reason to consume shark fins, other than the old adage of prestige',” she said.

Anti-shark fin activists have been notching up many victories recently, with the revered Peninsula Hotel chain announcing last month that it would stop serving the dish from next year.

Green Sabah says: Good job to the Sabah State government for their initiatives to ban Shark Fin trade, they have done the right thing to help preserve our sharks to prevent them from going extinct. Its great to see that there are many people within the country who also supported this move. Bravo.

Anglers support call to rein in defiant palm oil mills

The Sabah Anglers Association (SAA) said it seconds Sabah Environmental Protection Association's (Sepa) support for Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun to rein in defiant palm oil mills for tough discipline.

"Masidi himself has said that river pollution in Sabah has gone out of hand, so let's hope it won't be just rhetoric safeguarding State resources and environment but that we'll walk the talk," said SAA President, Datuk Wilfred Lingham, a former Permanent Secretary of Masidi's Ministry.

"The Sabah Anglers Association supports whatever activities the Ministry undertakes in this direction," Lingham said. "It is time to tell the oil palm industry to get their priorities right and scope of concern widened and the first priority is protection and conservation of the State's natural capital which is our under-pinning structure for adding value in all other developmental pursuits," Lingham said. "Their singular priority at the moment is making money but I do know there are friends and managers in the industry who are sensitive and very intelligent about the environmental imperative. We hope they will help drive a persuasive charge forward before radical action of jailing bosses comes to past," he said.

Lingham said he agreed with Sepa President Wong Tack that State agencies like the Environmental Protection Department under the Ministry needs support and fine-tuning to deal with a matter that has gone out of hand.
"It has been noted that 80 per cent of river water quality pollution comes from palm oil mills and plantations," he said.

"I have ventured to the Segama River and saw fish, prawns, catfish floating in the river. I asked villagers what happened and they pointed to ' kelapa sawit banyak kotor' (very dirty palm oil)," he said."What I mean local villagers depend so much on rivers for fish and prawns for both self consumption and sale for their livelihood," Lingham said."I have tried to fish in Segama where the fish we caught was very small, the big ones have gone, either because of over-fishing or because the pollutants have destroyed their habitats as well as their food chain," he argued.

"Not only that, crocodiles are now taking human and the reason is simple - they have no more fish to eat and so they go for domestic animals and human," said Lingham, citing a case when he was once forced to order the trapping of a large and very aggressive killer estuarine crocodile near Lahad Datu because it had eaten a child and many domestic dogs when he was still the Permanent Secretary.

Green Sabah says: The river pollution issue must be resolved and it would require the cooperation from all walks of life. Not only does the government need to take responsibility, each and everyone of us actually plays an important role in ensuring the cleanliness of our rivers. Local industries needs to ensure that their operation does not bring negative impacts to the environment.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) Sepilok in Sabah

Rainforest Discovery Centre RDC is located in Sepilok and caters to the environmental education of the Sabah Rainforest. It is also located in the Kabili-Seplok Forest Reserve which is also home to the world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. The primary function for the RDC is to create public awareness and importance of conserving our rainforest as well as mother natures resources. 

The Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC as it is commonly known was opened to the public in 2006 to create awareness for our tropical forest and rainforest. Proceeds from ticket sales are channeled back into the RDC to fund environmental education for students and other related activities which are becoming popular nowadays.  

The RDC has three main areas for exploration which are the main Visitors Building, Rainforest Discovery Trail and the Canopy Walkway.
Tickets can be purchased at the main Visitors Building entrance. From there, we can explore the interiors of the center where everything and anything about the rainforest, flora and fauna is displayed. Most of the information is related to the surrounding rainforest of Kabili-Sepilok and the greater Sandakan district. 

Rare information can be obtained here for instance one of the exhibits included the unique Pygmy Elephantsof Borneo which are a highly endangered species. These Pygmy Elephants are only found around theKinabatangan River in the Sukau district which is about two hours out from Sandakan. Other subjects of wildlife include various birds of Borneo, Butterflies and Insects and even Crocodiles.

When you explore the exhibition hall in the visitors building, you will notice that there are over 40 posters with information on flora and fauna of Borneo which include taxidermy (stuffed butterflies/insects) , samples of trees, flowers and leaves and even a skeleton head of a Pygmy Elephant in a case. There are quite a number of pictures of birds and flowers as Birders (Bird Watchers) or Flora Lovers would absolute enjoy this place. If you are an orchid lover, you should not miss visiting the RDC.  

Once you exit the visitor center, you will be lead to the Plant Discovery Garden which is part of the Rainforest Discovery Trail. It is here where you will see the natural flora of the Borneo Rainforest. Flowers and plants are carefully located in their own specific areas throughout the walk which made identifying them easy. A tip would be to engage a good nature guide for this as he or she will explain everything along the way to you. The main Rainforest Discovery Trail would easily take you a good one to two hours to complete and this depends on the time and speed of your exploration. 

Apart from the Visitors Building and the Rainforest Discovery Trail, there is the very unique Canopy Walk where the entire structure is made from steel. It is here where Birders (Bird Watchers) come to see the rare and unique birds of Borneo. 

By the way, the Rainforest Discovery Center RDC also offers EE Programs for students and since 1997, about 13,000 students from both local and foreign schools have participated in this Environmental Educational Program. This is something where more local and international schools around the region should participate in.

Source: http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2010/01/rainforest-discovery-centre-rdc-sepilok.html

Green Sabah says: RDC is a good place for environmental education. Apart from getting information about the rainforest by reading, it is more fun to learn more about it by having your own experience visit to RDC. Besides gaining the knowledge, you can enjoy the nature at the same time. An interesting place to visit, isn't it?

Praises for Sabah's Forestry Policy

Short-term unsustainable logging is out and long-term management is in.

Sabah is fast becoming a trailblazer in sustainable forest management. This is evident from the numerous accolades, notably from the United Nations, World Wildlife Fund Malaysia, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Prince Charles Charity, for the success of its forest conservation efforts.

With the global community looking at Sabah as a fine example in tropical rainforest protection and management, several forest conservation-related international meetings and conferences were held in the state over the past few months.

At one of them, the United Nation Development Programme's resident representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Kamal Malhotra, described Sabah as a model of sustainable forest management not only for Southeast Asia, but also the world.

"What is happening here (Sabah) is closely monitored by those who are interested in sustainable development," he said.

In recognition of Sabah's efforts, the UNDP has agreed to fund a RM14 million project on multi-use forest landscape planning and management at a 260,000ha active production forest area at the Kalabakan-Gunung Rara forest reserve in Tawau.

Echoing Malhotra, WWF Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma commended the visionary leadership of the state government under Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman for its political will and for "walking the talk" in implementing programmes and initiatives to protect and conserve the environment.

"Sustainable development will determine if we get to keep this planet, and Sabah, with the leadership that it has, will be able to keep this part of the world intact," remarked Dr Dionysius.

Sabah's forest conservation effort has also attracted the attention of Charles, the Prince of Wales, whose foundation is involved in funding numerous rainforest conservation programs.

State Forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan was recently invited by the prince to share Sabah's success in sustainable forest management at the WWF Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN) Anniversary Forum in London.

It is heartening to note that these strict practices have helped Sabah improve the way it manages its forests.

This was evident particularly in terms of phasing out short-term logging licenses that did not adhere to sustainability principles.

Through new practices, long-term forest management plans were designed and reduced-impact logging was introduced.

The state also started giving priority to the protection of High Conservation Value Forests, which are home to diverse wildlife and plants, and also serve as watersheds. By committing to sustainable ways of logging, Sabah has also safeguarded the interests of local communities whose lives depend on the forest.

Switching from conventional logging to sustainable harvesting was perhaps one of the most difficult decisions the state government had to make.

This was due to the fact that Sabah was hugely dependent on timber for revenue, and opting for sustainable forestry management means making sacrifices such as losing short-term monetary gains, and doing away with old ways of logging.

Time and resources were instead allocated to finding the best ways to harvest timber without negatively impacting the environment and communities.

The most practical and pragmatic ways of doing things are continuously addressed as Sabah learnt newer things from its experience in sustainably managing forests.

Despite uncertainties when the state embarked on the bold decision to push for a sustainably harvested forest, it has passed the litmus test and has proven the doubters wrong.

"For Sabah, this is not just talk. We have success stories, among them the Deramakot Forest Reserve which has been certified as a well-managed forest under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme," Musa said.

From the Deramakot experience, Sabah expanded sustainable forest management practices statewide in 1997, allowing it to continue creating jobs and revenue and at the same time preserving its forests and biodiversity.

The practices are now well accepted and the goal of the Forestry Department to attain full certification for forest reserves by 2014 has started yielding results. To date, Sabah has 839,477ha of forest under some form of certification.

Of this, some 373,620ha have been certified as well-managed by the FSC.

This includes the recently certified 50,070ha Tangkulap forest reserve and the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves covering a total of 241,098ha. The Malu reserve is particularly significant as it is expected to help conserve a habitat for orang utans. 

Green Sabah says: Great effort from the Sabah state government in sustainable forestry management. It shows that the government are willing to give up on profits from the logging activities by turning our forests into conservation areas.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Malaysia First Geothermal Plant in Sabah.

Sabah will have the country’s first geothermal plant by 2014 as the State taps into environmental-friendly energy to feed the growing needs.

Yesterday, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) and Tawau Green Energy (TGE) entered into an agreement called the renewable energy power purchase agreement (REEPA).

The ceremony commenced with Andrew S.R Amaladoss, Project Director of TGE, Ramzi Raad, Managing Director of TGE, Datuk Baharin Din, Managing Director of SESB and Zunaidah Osman, company secretary of SESB signing the documents.

The historic event was witnessed by Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Tan Sri Leo Moggie, Chairman of SESB and Dato Sri Che Khalib Mohammad Noh, President and CEO of TNB.
According to Amaladoss, the energy is not only renewable but also one of the most environment-friendly energy technologies available today.

The carbon print of geothermal power is 65 times lesser than coal, 49 times lesser than fossil oil and 40 times lesser than natural gas.

He also said that if well-maintained the reservoir can be sustained for the next 100 years.Work to the plant in Apas will kick off today with completion date for Dec 2014.

Based on the terms of the agreement, the generation plant with its capacity of 30MW will be incorporated into SESB’s Grid, utilizing the 132kV lines into Tawau and Kalumpang for a period of 21 years.

The project cost is estimated to cost almost RM400 million and will be financed by local financial institutions on a conventional project financing basis.

Green Sabah says: Geothermal is the most environment friendly renewable energy technologies available, therefore it is good that this project was planned to help resolve the power shortage issues in Sabah and at the same time help protect the environment.