Thursday, June 20

Biodiversity rich Imbak Canyon largely unexplored – Yayasan Sabah

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KOTA KINABALU: Only a small part of Imbak Canyon has been explored since it was gazetted by the government into a Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve in 2009.

Yayasan Sabah Group group manager (Conservation and Environmental Management Division) Dr Waidi Sinun said in his welcoming remarks during the forum on the findings of Imbak Canyon 2012 Wildlife Survey held at a resort near here yesterday that it would probably take several more scientific expeditions to unveil what Imbak Canyon holds.

“With only 10 per cent of Sabah’s landmass under protected area management, it is important that more effort be put into gearing towards the full protection of pristine areas such as Imbak Canyon for posterity,” he said.

He added that with the disturbance in the surrounding areas adjacent to Yayasan Sabah concession areas, especially in the state land along Pinangah, Millian and Imbak Rivers (tributaries of Upper Kinabatangan River), Imbak Canyon was increasingly becoming a refuge for wildlife, leading to increased concerns over the state

of wildlife populations both inside and outside the protected areas.

“And despite the fact that tropical rainforest is known for its high biodiversity and species richness, the scarcity and the cryptic behaviour of some fauna species have resulted in scarcity of information about the species,” he said.

Waidi then commented that the lack of baseline data and the absence of accurate estimates of population trends had prevented conservationists and wildlife managers from identifying, quantifying and addressing suspected negative impact.

And that to assess the wildlife in general in Imbak Canyon and its surrounding areas, scientific-based survey must be implemented.

He touched on the Imbak Canyon survey carried out for 15 days between July 5 and July 20 this year, saying that the main objective of the operation was to create baseline wildlife database for Imbak Canyon Conservation Area.

The database will be used to estimate species diversity and richness within the area, to determine the presence of very rare, threatened and endangered species, to provide guidance to wildlife management and conservation, and to determine wildlife use of particular resources or area.

Additionally, the database will also lead to effective implementation and enforcement of the area as a conservation area, and would be crucial in developing the future Imbak Canyon management plan.

A total of 100 people took part in the operation, he said.

At the same time, Waidi also commented that knowledge on the environment was still lacking despite numerous efforts on providing environmental education.

“Education, public awareness and training have a vital role to play in the process of promoting a greater understanding of the environment and sustainable development, and hence, the improvement of our society,” he said.