Category: News

OECM Stakeholder Engagement Workshop in KL

OECM Stakeholder Workshop Participants

29th June 2022: SEARRP hosted a workshop to share a summary of our findings from the OECM (Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures) case studies. The case studies presented were based on the site assessments and case study evaluations that SEARRP has conducted with project partners over the past three years with the aim of identifying potential OECM areas around Malaysia.

Dr Glen Reynolds & Melissa Payne presenting findings from OECM case studies across Malaysia

Together with policy makers, universities, state authorities and environmental organisations, SEARRP discussed and reviewed how this innovative approach can be further refined and applied in the Malaysian context. We feel that based on the success of our initial studies, we are one step closer to exploring the potential of recognising and adopting an OECM approach for Malaysia.

Melissa Payne (SEARRP) presenting barriers to implementation of OECMs

This project is funded by the GEF-Small grants Programme.

OECM field visit to UiTM Jengka Forest Reserve and Benus Bird Camp in Pahang

OECM visit to UiTM Jengka and Benus Bird Camp

Recently our OECM (Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures) team in Peninsular Malaysia were joined by SEARRP’s key senior field staff from Sabah, to conduct site visits for the project. Together they visited two areas in Pahang:(i) UiTM’s University campus forest reserve in the Jengka Forest Reserve, Pahang; and (ii) Benus Bird Camp, Jerantut, Pahang. The team conducted site-assessments against the OECM criteria for assessing potential OECMs in Malaysia, while also testing the Forest Integrity Assessment (FIA) smartphone application in the field.

Forest Integrity Assessment Smart Phone Application

It was an amazing opportunity for our team to spend time in the forests of Pahang, exchange knowledge with partners, gain ideas and insight on forest assessments with the UiTM team and share experiences with the community leader of the Benus Bird Camp. The SEARRP team is incredibly grateful to our project partners and we are already looking forward to working on more joint initiatives on forest conservation efforts throughout Malaysia. Learn more about the OECM project here.

OECM visit to UiTM Jengka and Benus Bird Camp

FIA Smart Phone Application in action

New research into the impact of peatland re-wetting on biodiversity and yields from the SEnSOR Project

Drainage canal management, Indonesia (Photo Credit: Eleanor Warren-Thomas)

New SEnSOR-linked research led by Dr Eleanor Warren-Thomas and colleagues, investigated whether peat restoration initiatives affect biodiversity and oil palm yields on smallholdings in Indonesia. Initiatives to re-wet cultivated peatlands could protect both biodiversity and farms if they reduce fire risk, but there are concerns that re-wetting could reduce yields and damage livelihoods. The team from the UK and Indonesia studied yields and bird diversity in smallholdings that varied in drainage intensity and a nearby protected peat swamp forest in Jambi, Sumatra.  They found that neither bird species richness nor oil palm yields were affected by the amount of drainage. This suggests that peatland re-wetting initiatives could benefit smallholders by reducing fire risk without reducing yields. Drainage levels did not appear to affect on-farm bird diversity, which was low with very few species of conservation concern, but reducing fire risk could help protect vital remnant forest for biodiversity. Dr Eleanor Warren-Thomas wrote an incredibly interesting blog post about the work that is available in English and Bahasa Indonesia and the full article, which was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, is available here.



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