KOTA KINABALU: Yayasan Sabah and Petronas have struck a partnership to embark on a collation and documentation on ethno-foresty with the view to positioning the Imbak Canyon as a centre of learning for the indigenous community in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
The partnership also aims at creating a gene bank conservation and exploring into the pharmaceutical and bio-technological potentials, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun when lauching the Ethno-Forestry Study and Workshop on Accessing and Commercialising Biodiversity yesterday.
He deemed the study and workshop as a step towards catapulting Sabah to a leading position in bio-technology and pharmaceutical by harnessing the State’s biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.
He also disclosed that the ethno-forestry study will explore and collate indigenous knowledge and practice of the communities in the surrounding areas of the Imbak Canyon.
“The elderly people and healers have knowledge about the medicinal plants and their uses in healthcare. With their long experience and practice, they have acquired rich knowledge about the utilisation of plant resources in various ways,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yayasan Sabah director Tan Sri Datu Khalil Datu Jamalul, who was represented by the Senior Group Manager for Human Resource and Corporate Service, Rosmawati Lasuki, said the future activities at Imbak would aim to facilitate the non-destructive use of one of Malaysia’s remaining pristine and undisturbed forests, in particular, for research activities to be carried out on the non-destructive uses of Malaysian forest such as weighing the potentials of the medicinal values, carbon retention and sequestration and bio-prospecting.
Emphasis would also be stressed on eco-tourism as an alternative commercial venture which is environmentally friendly and socially acceptable, he said.
“The area aims to host activities that would improve and strengthen technical knowledge and skill in forestry, biological research, forest conservation and environmental management,” he said.
In the quest to make the Imbak Canyon known, the area must be made accessible through the provision of necessary logistical support to facilitate research and study, he stressed.
“Access into the area is equally important in order to raise public appreciation of their heritage. A gateway into the area needs to be established and a management plan to be formulated,” he said.
For its part, Petronas has provided a funding of RM6 million
to be used by Yayasan Sabah Group and its agencies to carry out eight core programmes comprising community outreach, public awareness, research, capacity building, environmental education, ethno-forestry study as well as the formulation of a management plan and the establishment of the Imbak Canyon Study centre.
He explained that the ethno-forestry survey and documentation has been identified as one of the activities to be carried out under the community outreach programme.
The Ethno Botanical studies will be a long-term project as it will lead towards the positioning of the Imbak Canyon as the centre of learning for the indigenous community in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources as well as for gene bank conservation and the exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials, he said.