Author: Katie King

Important Announcement for Permit Applications!

Please be advised that effective December 1st 2023, Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon permit applications for RESEARCH, PHOTOGRAPHY & FILMING, and DRONE will only be processed through the DaMaI Management Committee Meetings that take place quarterly. The following dates are the deadlines for permit application submissions for year 2024. If you have any questions or require further information please contact the DaMaI secretariat at

2024 DaMaI Permit Application Deadline


Wrapping up the Kembara Rimba Taliwas Environmental Education Programme – the final school group

Group photo with participants from SMK Sepagaya, project partners from Seratu Ataai & SEARRP RAs

The two year Kembara Rimba Taliwas Environmental Education Programme, a project that conducts educational trips to the Taliwas River and Conservation Area (TRCA) in Eastern Sabah, has come to an end. From October 20th to 22nd, 2023, the 8th group of students from SMK Segapaya participated in the Environmental Education (EE) program, marking the final school group for this amazing initiative.

During this three-day, two-night programme, students engaged in a series of interactive and scientifically informed environmental education initiatives. These initiatives were carefully designed to simplify complex scientific environmental information in order to enhance the accessibility for participants and to help them gain an understanding of the current issues impacting rainforest and local people. This was achieved by utilising a dedicated EE toolkit that is comprised of lessons, worksheets and hands-on activities that have all been specifically developed for the Kembara Rimba Taliwas EE programme.

Students presenting on plant adaptation in rainforest the canopy layer

The last EE programme at TRCA was made even more special by the participation of our NGO partner, Seratu Ataai. We carried out several activities together, like extracting hormones from elephant dung, which is a simple and student-friendly sampling technique. We also helped students grasp the importance of Bornean elephant conservation by teaching them about animal cells and creating 3D cell models.

Hands-on activity with Seratu Ataai- Building 3D models of animal cells

Over the course of two years, the Kembara Rimba Taliwas programme has successfully engaged a total of 236 students and 16 teachers from eight different schools: SMK Kinabutan, SMK Bukit Garam, SMK Agaseh, SMK Sukau, SM Visi, SMK Bukit Garam II, SMK Paris, and SMK Sepagaya. During this time, SEARRP has received enthusiastic feedback from all participating schools, with most students and teachers expressing a keen interest in participating in future Environmental Education programmes with us.

Sampling activity- Students collecting macroinvertebrates from the Taliwas River.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to all the schools that have been involved in this journey, from the start with the  Kembara Rimba Taliwas EE Online Series in August 2023 to the recent school trip to TRCA. Our hope is that this programme has nurtured a sense of environmental stewardship and an increased understanding of the importance of conservation among the participants. With the knowledge, information, and insights shared by our experienced trainers, we aspire to have kindled a lasting interest in exploring the wonders of our Bornean rainforest.

Students attending SEARRP’s EE Outreach Officer Imelda’s presentation on the role of animals in the forest

Field work activity- students learning how to identify plant functional groups using quadrat sampling technique




SEARRP Data Submission on Zenodo Starting the 1st of January 2024

With effect from the 1st January 2024, we will require all researchers working with SEARRP to deposit the most recent version of all datasets generated and collected as part of the programme. All datasets provided must have accompanying completed metadata to enable and simplify interpretation. All deposited datasets will be stored on Zenodo, which enables open access to the research data and provides a permanent DOI for each dataset. Please take a minute to review our data policy and submission process here . Over time, and in collaboration with previous SEARRP scientists, we plan to compile historic datasets collected prior to the implementation date (1st January 2024) of this new policy. SEARRP’s Data Manager, Samuel Lee, will be in touch over the coming months to discuss this in further detail.

TESSA Knowledge Sharing & Exchange Visit in Tasik Chini, Pahang

TESSA group with Orang Asli representatives

The TESSA Pahang Team, comprised of members from the Tasik Chini Research Centre at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and the Pahang Forestry Department, in collaboration with SEARRP, recently implemented an Ecosystem Service Assessment in the Central Forest Spine, using the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA). Together the team organised a Knowledge Sharing and Exchange Visit Programme in Tasik Chini, Pahang, Malaysia which took place on August 7th and 8th, 2023. The event was attended by 33 TESSA team members hailing from Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Selangor, and Terengganu. Supported by Yayasan Hasanah, the primary objective of this programme was to share the team’s expertise in evaluating cultural ecosystem services through the utilisation of the TESSA toolkit. Additionally, the programme sought to enhance the understanding of the relationship between forest and lake ecosystems and the culture of the Orang Asli community in Tasik Chini.

Amelia from the TESSA Pahang team detailing their experience conducting the TESSA assessment in the Tasik Chini area

Orang Asli representatives explaining the use of plants from Tasik Chini for traditional medicine


The programme’s first day started with a sharing session led by the Orang Asli from the Jakun tribe. They discussed the influence of ecosystem services on their cultural beliefs and well-being. The morning session featured a guided forest trek led by Orang Asli guides who explained the forest’s interconnectedness with their traditions, customs, and culture. Additionally, they showcased medicinal forest plant species, explaining their preparation and emphasising the importance of responsible forest resource management. Following the guided walk, the local communities shared their beliefs and recounted the history of Tasik Chini, shedding light on the tradition of passing down stories to younger generations. And indeed the storytelling session proved to be very interesting.

Orang Asli representative showing the ‘sumpit’ or Jakun blowpipe

During the afternoon session, the group embarked on a boat ride to explore the Tasik Chini area and visited the Orang Asli villages, namely Kampung Cendahan and Kampung Sri Gumum. This provided the TESSA team members with the opportunity to meet with the communities, gain insights into their daily lives, acquire knowledge about their traditional hunting tools, specifically the blowpipe, including hands-on instructions on how to use it!!

Visit to Jakun community- Kampung Sri Gumum

On the last day of the programme, the group visited SK Tasik Chini (JHEOA), a school originally established by the Department of Orang Asli Development (JaKOA) and currently overseen by the District Education Office under the Pahang State Education Department. During the visit, the TESSA team were treated to a traditional performance by Orang Asli students, featuring the Kelundang and Sewang performance.This performance marked the conclusion of the programme, and the SEARRP team hopes that TESSA trainees have acquired valuable knowledge and experiences through the various sharing and exchange visits organised during the event.

Traditional performance by the students of SK Tasik Chini.

The Sabah Biodiversity Experiment is featured in The Guardian

Landscape picture of oil palm plantation in Sabah, Malaysia Photo Credit Chien Lee

In a recent in-depth report by The Guardian, the groundbreaking work conducted at the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment has been highlighted following a publication in Science Advances. This ongoing 20-year project stands as one of the world’s largest experiments of its kind and sheds light on the immense advantages of repopulating logged tropical forests with a diverse array of native tree species. The study’s findings underscore that increased diversity in replanting leads to swifter forest recovery in terms of canopy area and tree biomass when compared to areas undergoing natural regeneration or planted with fewer species. Notably, Professor Andrew Hector from the University of Oxford and Ryan Veryard emphasised that this approach not only expedites the rejuvenation of tree cover but also enriches biodiversity and vital ecosystem services like carbon sequestration. The research team found that the probable reason for the better recovery was that different tree species occupied distinct niches within the forest ecosystem and so diverse mixtures of planted species complemented each other and increased the effective functioning of the whole ecosystem.  This study’s insights underscore the paramount importance of preserving biodiversity in untouched forests and provide valuable guidance for combatting climate change and mitigating biodiversity decline through effective forest restoration strategies. For the full article, please refer here.

The Sabah Biodiversity Experiment is starting it’s first full census in 10 years!

New contract team learning how to measure trees at the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment Plot

The Sabah Biodiversity Experiment is studying the impact of tree diversity for restoration purposes in order to determine how much biodiversity is needed to maintain crucial ecosystem services like flood protection, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. The project covers over 500 hectares that consists of plots that have been planted in monocultures, 4 tree species or 16 species. This design allows comparisons of tree biomass production, diversity and fauna recovery and nutrient cycling between the three plots to determine if planting diversity positively affects ecosystem functions. To study this, the SBE is beginning it’s first full census in 10 years! The team, that is comprised of experts and new contract workers, have just completed 10 plots of maintenance and have just measured the first plot. Already in during the team’s measurements they have discovered a tree with 40 cm dbh (diameter at breast height) after only 22 years and the largest tree that they  measured was 54 cm dbh  and over 30 m tall!! We will be updating on the progress of this census, so be sure to watch this space!

Danum Valley is expecting high numbers of visitors and tourists September-December 2023

At a recent SEARRP staff meeting we were notified by the manager of Danum Valley that the Field Centre is expecting high numbers of tourists during the final quarter of the year. For all scientists wishing to book accommodation, please try to do so early to ensure that you have a spot at DVFC for the duration of your research. For all questions, you can contact Adrian Karolus at

Danum Valley Field Centre is expecting high tourism numbers in the final quarter of the year, be sure to book accommodation early

Knowledge sharing and exchange visit to Ulu Bendul Forest, Negeri Sembilan

TESSA outreach workshop in Negeri Sembilan

On August 15th the SEARRP team travelled to Negeri Sembilan in Peninsula Malaysia to join TESSA project members for a 2-day visit to the Ulu Bendul Recreational Forest and Pasoh 50-hectare vegetation plot. The Ulu Bendul Recreational Forest is situated in the Angsi Forest Reserve, which is located between Kuala Pilah and Seremban in the Negeri Sembilan region of Malaysia. This forest reserve is in an ecologically significant location that is characterised by indigenous foliage and numerous ponds and streams.

TESSA workshop exploring the Forest

Tree Identification

The Pasoh 50-hectare vegetation plot exhibits an exceptional degree of tree species diversity, with over 330,000 trees encompassing 818 distinct species within 295 genera and 81 families. This site exchange gave participants a hands-on opportunity to learn about the forest ecosystem of the Ulu Bendul forest and a rare insight into the important research conducted by FRIM and their research partners at Pasoh Forest Reserve.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Access and Export applications for the 3rd Quarter need to be submitted to SaBC by August 23rd, 2023

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Access and Export evaluation committee meeting for the 3rd quarter (meeting series 3/2023) has been rescheduled to an earlier date. Therefore, all applications must be submitted to SaBC by 23 August 2023 (next Wednesday) for evaluation. Please email or if you have any questions.

3rd Quarter Access & Export applications are due by August 23rd 2023

Signing Ceremony & Seminar of the 8th Quinquennial Memorandum of Understanding Between the Danum Valley Management Foundation, Sabah Foundation and SEARRP

Photo of representatives and participants of the 8th Quinquennial Memorandum of Understanding and Seminar

Last week representatives from the Sabah Foundation, the Danum Valley Management Committee, and the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARPP) convened to renew their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Danum Valley Research and Training Programme. This renewal marks the continuation of a long-standing collaboration that was forged nearly four decades ago and is a testament to a shared commitment to further scientific progress and foster mitigation strategies in response to the challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss.

Director of SEARRP, Dr Glen Reynolds, presenting on the history of the programme and the ongoing collaboration with Yayasan Sabah

Danum Valley was officially created in 1981 when the Sabah Foundation took decisive action to voluntarily set aside the area as a result of its remarkable biodiversity. This step was later strengthened in 1996 when the Danum Valley Conservation Area was declared a fully projected Class I Forest Reserve.

SEARRP was established by the Royal Society in 1984 and headquarted at the Danum Valley Field Centre. The scientific programme in Danum Valley, which the first MoU underpinned, has a twofold purpose: to enable and facilitate world class research in pristine and recovering rainforest and to nurture a new generation of scientists capable of addressing complex issues related to rainforest conservation and management.

Representatives from the Sabah Foundation, the Danum Valley Management Committee and SEARPPat the MoU signing

Over the last four decades, the programme has involved hundreds of local and international students and scientists, whose work has generated over 700 peer-reviewed articles – many of which have been published the the world’s leading academic journals. Additionally, the programme has supported over 250 students through their PhD and Master’s degrees, with at least 80 of these being early career scientists from Malaysia, mostly Sabahans. The research conducted in Danum Valley has led to a step-change in our understanding of tropical rainforests, their conservation and sustainable management.

SEARRP Team at MoU Signing