Category: News

Upcoming events-the Heart of Borneo conference in KK 23rd-25th Oct 2017 & Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting in Bali 27th-30th Nov 2017

As in previous years, SEARRP will be hosting two sessions at the Heart of Borneo (HoB) conference in Kota Kinabalu, October 23rd-25th 2017 at the Magellan Sutera Harbor. The focus of this year’s HoB will be revisiting the five primary objectives: Protection; Ecotoursim; Sustainable Development; Transboundry Cooperation; and Capacity Building. We will be sure to keep everyone updated on further details running up to the event. In addition, the annual RSPO Round Table meeting will be held in Bali this year November 27th-30th 2017 and, again, please look out for updates here.

SEARRP Science Meeting at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative

SEARRP recently hosted a science meeting for our network of Universities and collaborating scientists at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. The meeting provided an opportunity for post-docs and early career scientists associated with SEARRP to present their current work, which described the breadth of work that is being carried out in Sabah. The meeting was also an occasion for everyone to discuss future research opportunities, with a particular emphasis on a proposed SEARRP-led habitat restoration project in Aceh, Indonesia. This large scale project aims to return an existing, mature oil palm plantation to forest cover – with opportunities to design the project in a way that enables key questions in habitat restoration to be experimentally tested at a landscape level. The project, which is intended to discharge, in part, the compensation liability of a major RSPO-certified plantation company, has received preliminary approval and we expect to receive final sign-off and budget confirmation later this year – with baseline surveys to commence in 2018. Please see our meeting agenda and workshop discussion summary for more details.

Landmark Science Project to Expand Sabah’s Protected Forests

SFD's Fred Kugan & Datuk Sam Mannan with SEARRP's Dr Glen Reynolds & Dr Agnes Agama

SFD’s Fred Kugan & Datuk Sam Mannan with SEARRP’s Dr Glen Reynolds & Dr Agnes Agama

The Sabah Forestry Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) on April 20th 2017, launching a landmark project that will harness world-class science to support the Sabah State Government’s target of increasing protected area coverage to 30% of Sabah’s land area by 2025. Speaking at the opening of the MoU signing, Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan emphasised how forest conservation is a major priority for the State Government of Sabah. “I am pleased to confirm that the Sabah Government is committed to increasing the extent of protected forests from the current 26% to 30% of land area by 2025. This will involve the protection of an additional c. 1 million acres of rainforest in Sabah.”

The MoU marks the launch of a landmark science project supported by the Rainforest Trust and based on a strategic partnership between the Sabah Forestry Department, SEARRP, the Carnegie Institution for Science, PACOS Trust and BC Initiative. Leading the coordination of this project, Dr Glen Reynolds, Director of SEARRP, explained that “between now and 2020, the project will generate maps of forest carbon, biodiversity and functional composition that will be integrated with archived and new field observations across a range of key taxa, including narrow-range endemic trees, and state-of-the-art meta-population models that identify critical habitat connections for range-shifting species.” The project will also consider other species, including those that provide important ecosystem services such as pollination and dispersal to ensure the efficacy of forest protection over time, especially resilience to climate change. “Integrating the livelihood requirements of forest-dependent communities will be a vital consideration in the selection of new protected areas. Led by our partners PACOS Trust and BC Initiative, the project will consult with local communities and stakeholders to generate cost-benefit options and reach consensus on an optimal scenario for rainforest protection,” Dr Reynolds added.

Speaking to over 60 scientists from leading universities in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Malaysia at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative’s David Attenborough Building, Datuk Sam Mannan reiterated how, “science plays a major role in all we do and indeed the Royal Society-SEARRP, has been one of our longest standing partners. I am pleased to be working together with SEARRP and this exciting consortium of partners to identify new protected areas that not only conserve biodiversity but protect the livelihoods of our people”.

Back to the Future in Borneo

The Tropical Biology Association, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and SEARRP are reintroducing capacity building field courses at Danum Valley Field Centre for young conservation scientists from Southeast Asia and around the world starting in October 2017.

Borneo Field Course