Studying the Forest

Amidst lush greenery and the beautiful Imbak falls, the opening of the Imbak Canyon Studies Centre (ICSC) marked a historic milestone for the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA), a pristine rainforest in the heart of Sabah and home to a wide variety of flora, fauna and unique landscapes.

The launch of the ICSC is an important step in the Sabah State Government’s move to protect the State’s rainforest heritage and the environment. This world-class biodiversity and environmental research centre, is a 27-hectare facility that sits within the 270,000- hectare core zone of the ICCA.

Since 2010, PETRONAS has committed a total of RM83 million towards the conservation of Imbak Canyon – making it the first and largest ever local partnership by Yayasan Sabah Group in conserving a gazetted forest area in the State. Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie bin Haji Apdal, Chief Minister of Sabah says, “The ICCA has the potential to become the destination of choice for rainforest research, attracting both local and international researchers.”

(From left) Datuk Ahmad Nizam, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie and Dr Yap Sau Wai, Group Manager, Conservation & Environmental Management Division of Yayasan Sabah at the ICSC Science Laboratory.

The Chairman of Yayasan PETRONAS, Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh concurs: “In order to promote research activities here, we plan to introduce an environment research grant to spur research related to carbon sequestration, new energy as well as in biodiversity.”

Director of Yayasan Sabah, Datuk Haji Jamalul Kiram bin Datuk Haji Mohd Zakaria continues, “The construction of ICSC will create more jobs for communities living nearby in the Imbak area, especially young people, in hospitality and tourism related activities. Through these we hope they can better their standard of living in a sustainable way.”

There are about 15 villages around Imbak. “Before ICSC was established, the people depended on the jungle to sell or use its natural resources, such as Tongkat Ali.

“When we work with Yayasan Sabah, we also have to work with the community in that area. We give them the opportunity to gain better employment and start their own business,” Lita Osman explains.