Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Imbak Canyon Study Centre boost for research, tourism

WHILE the Maliau Basin Conservation Area (MBCA) and the Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) remain as Borneo’s more prominent and celebrated forests, it would be an oversight to exclude the equally majestic Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) of Tongod from the list.

Situated north of MBCA and the west of DVCA, the Imbak Canyon is located some 300 kilometres away from Kota Kinabalu, a road journey that will take approximately seven to eight hours, subject to good road conditions.

Since being gazetted as a Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve by the State Government back in 2009, the ICCA has come a long way, and has reinvented itself as one of Sabah’s most promising tourism products.

The growth of the ICCA can be attributed to the partnership between Yayasan Sabah and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) that was initiated back in 2010.

Since then, the two bodies have taken numerous initiatives to ensure the preservation of the forests, most recently being the establishment of the highly awaited Imbak Canyon Studies Centre (ICSC).

In 2013, Petronas approved a RM77 million fund under Phase 2 of the Yayasan Sabah and Petronas partnership to build the ICSC, in line with its intent to solidify the ICCA as a centre of learning for indigenous community in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Construction commenced in 2014 and was completed in November 2016, when the facility was subsequently handed over to Yayasan Sabah.

Among others, the ICSC will serve as a platform for gene bank conservation and the exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials.

Last Monday, a group of journalists were invited for a first ever media visit to ICSC, where they had to stay on location for four days under a programme spearheaded by Petronas and Yayasan Sabah.

To learn more about the facilities provided by the ICSC, the manager of ICCA, Dr. Hamzah Tangki, took members of the media for a tour around the newly-built compound.

It is understood that the buildings at the ICSC were designed taking into consideration green elements to ensure minimal carbon footprint.

The establishment of the ICSC will coincidentally elevate Tongod as one of the crucial districts of the State with the ICSC serving as a major infrastructural development.