TONGOD: Amidst lush greenery and the beautiful Imbak Falls, the Imbak Canyon Studies Centre (ICSC) was officially opened yesterday, marking a milestone for the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA), a pristine rainforest in the heart of Sabah, and home to a wide variety of flora, fauna and unique landscapes.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal officiated at the opening ceremony, accompanied by Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Jamalul Kiram Mohd Zakaria, Petronas and Yayasan Petronas chairman Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh, and Petronas group president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin.
The launch of ICSC is an important step in the state government’s move to protect the state’s rainforest heritage and the environment, adding to its capabilities to host world-class biodiversity and environmental research.
ICCA is one of the five conservation areas managed by Yayasan Sabah Group, in addition to Danum Valley, Maliau Basin, Silam Coast and Taliwas River.
Since 2010, Petronas has committed a total of RM83mil towards the conservation of Imbak Canyon – making it the first and largest ever local partnership with Yayasan Sabah Group to conserve a gazetted forest protection area in the state.
The parties extended their partnership for ICSC through the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
ICSC is a 27ha facility that sits within the 27,599ha core zone of ICCA.
Ahmad Nizam said: “ICSC is central to the conservation work at Imbak. In order to spur research activities here, Petronas through Yayasan Petronas plans to introduce an environment research grant to spur research related to biodiversity, carbon sink as well as in new energy.
“We are confident that the partnership with Yayasan Sabah Group will enable us to protect intellectual property rights and commercial patents that may arise from the research conducted in Imbak Canyon.
“We want to continue the work in conservation in a sustainable and scalable way, where there can be shared success.”
Meanwhile, Jamalul Kiram said: “ICSC will strengthen the position of ICCA as a centre of learning for the indigenous communities, in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources as well as gene bank conservation and exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials.
“Additionally, Yayasan Sabah Group is also committed to empowering the local community towards a better standard of living for a sustainable future.”
The construction of ICSC expands the close collaboration between Yayasan Sabah Group and Yayasan Petronas towards the conservation and development of the Tongod community in particular and for the state of Sabah.
“In line with the mission to improve the quality of life of Malaysians in Sabah, the construction of ICSC will create more jobs for communities living nearby in the Imbak area, especially young people, in hospitality and tourism-related activities. Through these, we hope they can improve their livelihood in a sustainable way,” Jamalul Kiram said. — Bernama
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