Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Study on Imbak Canyon Ethno-Forestry

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are being made through the partnership of Yayasan Sabah Group (YSG) and Petronas to study and document forest products and natural resources used by local communities surrounding the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA).

The study will be carried out under the Imbak Canyon Ethno-Forestry Study with the launching to be held tomorrow (Wednesday) by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

According to Yayasan Sabah director Tan Sri Datu Khalil Datu Haji Jamalul, ICCA is unique compared to the other conservation areas under the purview of Yayasan Sabah Group.

Khalil added to date three scientific expeditions had been conducted in ICCA.

“Although the expeditions were conducted in a short period of time, the works carried out have revealed that the area has a high density of medicinal plants-a true pharmaceutical haven,” he said.

“Hence, we see the need to conduct such study in identifying the medicinal plants used by the community surrounding ICCA. The study also aims to engage with the local medicine man in order to document the knowledge from their group about the usage of the medicinal plants.

“Yayasan Sabah Group hopes to work with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) and expertise from the relevant institutions/organisations to assist in the effort to ensure all medicinal values are recorded and all Intellectual Properties are properly recognised,” he explained.

“Much work needs to be done to classify and document its usage especially as medicinal plants. It will take a comprehensive study to unveil the secrets that lie within the conservation area that is dubbed as a ‘living pharmacy’, and which may possibly hold the cure to many of today’s sickness,” he added.

The in-depth social study and documentation will include collecting and documenting local knowledge on plants’ usage (including plant’s part, detail description of preparation of plants parts and user groups), distribution and management of all plants, species of interest, gathering of findings on the local’s classification systems for plants and the environment (vegetation, soils, climates, geology, vegetation types, species diversity etc), the people (ethnic group, language, population size and distribution, migration, social groups, education etc) and the interactions between them (land-use systems, tenure systems and human disturbance).

The study will cover the three “mukim” in Tongod District, namely Karamuak, Tongod and Pinangah, consisting of 48 villages surrounding ICCA.

The study will be conducted in two parts. The first outing is a preliminary study which aims to collect information on the socio-cultural structure for every village and at the same time identify the medicine men/elders who can provide information related to ethno-forestry and medicinal plants.

Through the second outing, the researchers will interview the medicine man/elders identified in the preliminary study concerning their knowledge on the usage of medicinal plants.

Khalil said the study and documentation of forest products and natural resources used by the communities surrounding ICCA is in line with Imbak Canyon Conservation Area’s positioning goals, i.e. to be a Centre of Learning for Indigenous Community in biodiversity conservation and for gene bank conservation and the exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials.

Khalil also voiced his concern that conserving Southeast Asia’s forests and promoting traditional knowledge are of great challenges especially in these days of rapid economic and social change.

He said, Sabah, like many areas around the world is facing many cultural and ecological challenges.

“In the last few decades, Sabah is in danger of losing the plant and animal diversity on which the people depended. Over a few generations, the traditional botanical knowledge that local communities have built up over several millennia is slipping away,” he added.

Continue reading at: Study on Imbak Canyon Ethno-Forestry