Author: Katie King

Sabah State Guidelines for International Travellers Entering Malaysia

New Guidelines for international travellers entering Sabah – effective 1 April 2022

Malaysia has opened it’s borders for international travellers as of April 1st, 2022. Sabah followed suit and has issued comprehensive guidelines, that are available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, so that travellers entering Malaysia are aware of the rules and requirements before their arrival. At SEARRP we are looking forward to welcoming back Scientists and Visitors! Please contact us at if you have any questions regarding entering Malaysia or Sabah. See you soon!

Download Guidelines For Entry Into Sabah Here.

Introductory workshops for Environmental Education Toolkits and the “Train-the-Trainers” Programme.

Introductory Workshop for Environmental Education Toolkits & “Train-the-Trainers” Programme

Last week SEARRP hosted the first introductory workshops for our Environmental Education (EE) toolkit and the subsequent “Train-the-Trainers” programme that is supported by Daim Zainuddin Environmental Education Programme. The purpose of these workshops was to introduce the EE materials and topic areas to future practitioners, stakeholders and communities, in order to gauge their interest in participating in the “Train-the-Trainers” programme as well as utilising the toolkits in their own EE programmes in the future. It also provided us with the opportunity to ask project partners for constructive feedback on the materials and how they can be improved so that they are more user-friendly and relevant in the Malaysian context.

3 Topic Areas: agricultural sustainability; riparian buffers & water catchment areas; living in a biodiverse world

SEARRP, in partnership with Swansea University Science for School SchemeSabah Environmental Education Network and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust, is in the process of co-developing Environmental Education (EE) materials that bring together the SEARRP science base and community specialists in order to develop an EE toolkit. This toolkit will consist of materials, workbooks, slide presentations and hands-on activities that promote environmental awareness and activities in the key environmental areas of agricultural sustainability, riparian buffers and water catchment areas, and living in a biodiverse world. We have chosen these subject areas based on partner consultation, with the focus on issues that impact the lives of local communities and are important to promoting environmental stewardship across Malaysia. We will use this toolkit to train and empower local EE practitioners and educators through an intensive “train-the-trainers” pilot programme, with the aim that participants will gain an in-depth knowledge on the subjects and to be able to convey and teach this information to local communities, schools and partners in the future. This EE toolkit will be free, available in both hardcopy and online in English and Bahasa Malaysia, and can be downloaded for partners to use in their own EE outreach projects.

Community Learning Centre Participants from across Sabah

Government Agency Participants

The introductory workshops were incredibly successful and the participants from both the government and non-government sector and the PACOS Community Learning Centre initiative showed great enthusiasm at receiving the training and having access to the final EE toolkit. Following the workshops, we circulated an online questionnaire to determine if participants thought we were focusing on the correct topic areas. The responses showed that our areas of focus are in line with what partners feel is important at a local and national level and this feedback has reassured our team that the EE toolkit will be relevant and applicable to a wide range of users. We were also able to gain insight into the likelihood of partners using the materials in their own EE outreach programmes and again all participants said that they thought that the toolkits and training programmes would benefit their current EE projects, and they are interested in adopting them into their curriculum and training modules. The questionnaire has also helped us to understand ways that we can improve the materials, by suggesting that we utilise case studies and local examples of environmental issues that local people face regularly in Malaysia. This type of feedback is the precise information that we were hoping to gain from the introductory workshops and we are looking forward to applying this information into the EE toolkit

PACOS’ Community Learning Centre participants questionnaire answers


Government Agency Participants questionnaire answers

We will incorporate these suggestions into our final EE toolkits and begin the roll out of our “Train-the-Trainers” workshops that will be held in late March and early April. If you have any questions about this exciting programme, please contact our EE Outreach Manager Imelda Geoffrey here.



TESSA in the Central Forest Spine: Basic Field Skills Training

Our first basic field training for non-foresters was held from the 14-15th December 2021. This training was conducted with the aim of providing Central Forest Spine (CFS) stakeholders the opportunity to gain technical field skills and knowledge needed to conduct their ecosystem service assessments using the TESSA approach and method

Basic Field Skill Training for TESSA – Group Picture.
Photo credit – Steven Wong

We were fortunate to have the support of the Shah Alam Community Forest committee in particular Ms Alicia Teoh and Mr Steven Wong, together with SEARRP’s field team who joined us all the way from Sabah, leading a series of training for our enthusiastic participants from Universiti Kebangansaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. Through the two day field training, participants were given hands-on experience on how to collect water samples, evaluate the water quality of the streams, measure the girth (DBH) of tropical trees and how to mark their own sampling plots for vegetation surveys and for carbon monitoring

Measuring DBH

Setting up a plot



Water Sampling
Photo credit Steven Wong

It was a great opportunity for the participants to learn from people who work in the field and to exchange ideas from local experts. During the training we also had the chance to catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife including a species of Agamid lizard, Green Whip snake and a Silver-leaf langur! Luckily we were able to escape the massive floods which struck our training venue the day after our event ended.


Group Picture of Tasik Chini

With restrictions easing in Malaysia, we have successfully conducted the second part of our TESSA Training Workshop 1 in a hybrid setting – with our participants from Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri, Jabatan Perhutanan Semenanjung Malaysia and our stakeholders from partner universities and NGOs attending the event physically in Kuantan, Pahang while our project manager, Melissa Payne in Sabah and our trainer, Rosie Trevalyn delivering their part of the training virtually from the UK.

Oficiating event_Credit photo to_Dr Hanisah

This has been a rare opportunity for all our participants from all over Malaysia from various agencies working in the Central Forest Spine to gather in one place to talk and share their thoughts about the threats, the challenges and ecosystem services in their respective areas.

In this training, participants learned further in depth about which TESSA methods they can use at their study sites while understanding what data is available or that needs to be collected. They calculated above-ground biomass and carbon stocks in a forest plot, engaged in very lively discussions about opportunities of nature-based recreation tourism and identified the beneficiaries of water resources in their respective study areas. Some of our seasoned forestry officers also shared about their experience and knowledge on their field sites, threats and their data collection.

Role play activity

Participants also had the opportunity to see first hand and visit a well managed forest research centre, at the Pusat Penyelidikan Tasik Chini (PPTC), established and run by the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). They were treated to a live demonstration of tree measuring by the JPN Pahang team, took a boat ride about the famous Tasik Chini lake and a visit to the local Jakun community.

Boat ride Tasik Chini_Dr Hanisah

Overall in the three days of TESSA training at Kuantan, Pahang, the participants enjoyed the beautiful sea views of the area, tried the famous Kuantan Mango Cheesecake courtesy of Tuan Haji Helmy (JPSN Terengganu) and gained further knowledge on TESSA.

Our participants should now be armed with the skills ready to start their field work using the TESSA toolkit in their respective sites in the CFS.

We would like to express our gratitude to Pengarah JPN Pahang. Dato’ Hj. Mohd. Paiz B. Kamaruzaman for officiating the event and the support of JPN Pahang and JPSM in making this event a success and also to PPTC team, UKM for organizing our Tasik Chini field excursion.

Finale_group photo

Merdeka Award 2020/21 Ceremony & Sabah Forestry Appreciation Night 2021

                                                                                                 Merdeka Award Ceremony

SEARRP Staff members Nur Ili Alia binti Ab Doroh and Sui Peng Heon recently had the chance to attend the Merdeka Award 2020/21 ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kuala Lumpur to accept an award on behalf of SEARRP for conservation, sustainable management and restoration of Malaysia’s forests.  The event was graced by His royal highness Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak and Her royal highness Tuanku Zara Salim of Perak, and attended by other award winners who are all working to make a difference to Malaysian society. This recognition and award will allow SEARRP to continue expanding our work in conservation, capacity building, environmental education, outreach and training. In addition, it will enable us to extend our focus to Peninsular Malaysia with a new project that focuses on capacity building in the Central Forest Spine. SEARRP would not have been able to achieve this level of recognition without the hard work and contribution of our entire team, which serves as the backbone for SEARRP and all our partner universities, institutions and organisations which have supported us through the years.

Staff member Sui with the Merdeka Award

SEARRP staff members Sui & Ili at the Merdeka Awards Ceremony











THE MALAM APRESIASI PERHUTANAN 2021 – Forestry Appreciation Night

The  “Malam Apresiasi Perhutanan 2021” (Forestry Appreciation Night 2021) was held on 30 November 2021 at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC). This event is an annual activity for the Sabah Forestry Department in recognizing not only their Staff who have shown excellent work performance during the year but also to the Sustainable Forest Management Licensee (SFM) Projects that meet compliance and to recognise Conservation Partners who are actively involved in the conservation and preservation of our forests. 10 NGOs across Sabah received the Conservation Partners appreciation, including SEARRP. The event was attended by the Chief Minister of Sabah, Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji bin Noor.


New Paper Published – The value of logged tropical forests: A study of ecosystem services in Sabah, Borneo

A new paper as been published in Elsevier  investigating the value of logged tropical forests. The field work was conducted in communities through interviews and ranking exercises around logged forest in Sabah, Malaysia, and community members’ provided valuation of Ecosystem Service. The study presents three key findings: 1. Clean water, clean air, regulation of temperature, flood and erosion are the Ecosystem Services ranked as the most important by all community members regardless of their spatial and socio-demographic backgrounds, 2. Prioritisation for other Ecosystem Service varied according to members’ age, gender, ethnicity, dependence on forest resources and distance to forest, 3. Community members’ priorities for Ecosystem Service align with the ecological literature that these services are retained by logged forest. These interesting results emphasise the need to promote people-centred approaches to design sustainable conservation policies of logged forests in Sabah. Read the full publication here.

TESSA Training Programme in the Central Forest Spine – First Training Session Completed!

Online TESSA Training Course with Project Partners

Online TESSA Training Course with Project Partners

With the support from Yayasan Hasanah and in collaboration with the Federal Department of Peninsular Malaysia (FDPM) and State Forestry Departments, SEARRP has started our first project in Peninsular Malaysia: Ecosystem Services in the Central Forest Spine (CFS) – Enabling Key Actors to Identify and Assess Natural Capital and Conservation Value Through the Use of TESSA.

This new project is based in one of the largest forest landscapes in Malaysia called the Central Forest Spine (CFS). The CFS is home to thousands of animal and plants species and provides vital ecosystem services for the surrounding communities. Despite the importance of this landscape, the area faces threats due to high demand of natural resources and the rapid urbanisation of the area. This three year project, which commenced in June 2020, aims to strengthen the conservation and restoration of this essential forest by training key stakeholders to identify and assess ecosystem services using a Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA). TESSA provides accessible guidance on low-cost methods for how to evaluate the benefits people receive from nature at particular sites in order to generate information that can be used to influence environmental decision making, and enable key actors to identify and assess natural capital and conservation value of forests.

Despite all the uncertainties and challenges presented by Covid-19, we successfully completed Part 1 of our TESSA Training Programme virtually for our budding Malaysian TESSA Project Leaders who are from the State and Federal Forestry Departments, local NGOs and partners from universities.


The 1.5 day online training covered the basic concepts of ecosystem services and TESSA, gave participants the opportunity to evaluate key ecosystem services and identify the challenges faced in their protected areas within the Central Forest Spine.
It was a great session with an exchange of ideas and increased knowledge of the value of forest conservation in Malaysia with helpful input from our expert trainer Dr Rosie Trevelyan from the Tropical Biology Association, UK.

Online TESSA Training Course with Project Partners

SEARPP has formally joined the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) as a member

SEARPP has formally joined the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) as a member, and has committed to contributing to the goals and initiatives led by POIG. As a POIG member, SEARPP is working to find solutions to the challenges faced by the palm oil industry. SEARPP supports using responsible palm oil as a means for driving transformation in the palm oil industry so that it benefits both nature and people. SEARRP is excited to be a member of POIG and looks forward to our continued work facilitating scientific research that addresses the major environmental issues facing the tropics: plantation development, habitat restoration, and climate change.

To learn more about POIG and the POIG Charter requirements please visit:

To learn more about SEARRP’s project visit:

Partner collaboration for Yayasan Haji Zainuddin funded project ‘Building capacity to deliver a community-focused environmental education programme in Sabah’

With support from Yayasan Haji Zainuddin, SEARRP in partnership with Swansea University Science for School Scheme, Sabah Environmental Education Network and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust, will co-develop Environmental Education (EE) modules and deliver capacity building to local EE practitioners and educators. This one-year project aims to bring together scientists, EE and community specialists in order to develop an EE toolkit that consists of modules, materials, handbooks and hands-on activities in the key environmental areas of agricultural sustainability, riparian reserves and water quality, and maintaining biodiversity. The project will then use this EE toolkit to train and empower local EE practitioners and educators through an intensive “train-the-trainers” pilot programme.

To ensure that this project is relevant to rural communities in Sabah, an essential aspect is to engage with partner organisations, in order to get their support and learn from their expertise. SEARRP recently had the opportunity to meet with Hutan Environmental Awareness Programme (HEAP) team, which is based on the Kinabatangan River in the village of Sukau, to learn from their extensive experience conducting EE programmes and to gauge their interest in participating in our train-the-trainer pilot programme. HEAP started their Environmental Education programme in 2003 with the aim of raising awareness amongst communities in Sabah about the importance of orang-utans and other wildlife and the need to protect and manage their fragile environment. HEAP initially started their EE outreach in the Kinabatangan area, but have expanded their reach across the state of Sabah over the past 15 years.  SEARRP is looking forward to working with HEAP, and the larger Hutan team, on this project and are very grateful for the help and insight that they will bring to the train-the-trainers programme scheduled for later this year.

YHZ Environmental Education collaboration meeting with Hutan Environmental Awareness Programme (HEAP) team

After our meeting with HEAP, SEARRP  had a follow-up engagement meeting with project partner PACOS  trust. PACOS is a community-based organisation that is dedicated to empowering indigenous people in Sabah. PACOS has been involved with this project from the start, and has offered helpful advice and plenty of guidance for outreach to rural communities across Sabah. This meeting was focused on the content of the Environmental Education materials that we are creating, to ensure that they are inline with EE materials that PACOS has used before and to check if our initial module ideas are relevant to local communities. We are incredibly thankful for the support from both of these organisations and we are looking forward to working with them more in the months to come.

Collaboration meeting with YHZ Environmental Education project parter PACOS

Latest SEnSOR science for policy brief on smallholder pre-conditions for certification out now!

The newest SEnSOR research policy brief is ready to view! Led by Dr Rosa de Vos at Wageningen University, this study explores the backgrounds of certified smallholders to determine which pre-conditions allow smallholders to engage with RSPO certification. Researchers developed smallholder groupings by reviewing the literature, and interviewed group managers of certified smallholders as well as certification facilitators (the organisations that help smallholders to become certified) to understand the opportunities and challenges for different types of smallholders in accessing certification.

Smallholder Pre-Condition Policy Brief available here