Sabah Forestry and KTS Plantation Embarks on Scientific Expedition, Sg Rawog Scientific Expedition 2.0 (2023)

SANDAKAN (Sept 4): KTS Plantation Sdn Bhd and Sabah Forestry Department are organising the Sg Rawog Conservation Area Scientific Expedition ver. 2.0 (2023) from September 4 to 15. Also participating in the expedition are Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks and other relevant agencies in Sabah. The expedition was launched by the Sabah Forestry Chief Conservator, Datuk Frederick Kugan at the Forestry Headquarters in Sandakan on Monday. Some 160 participants are involved in this expedition, in two batches. KTS Plantation (KTSP) is taking the initiative to jointly organize this scientific expedition to explore and document the biodiversity within their Forest Management Unit (FMU). The FMU is now managed based on the principles of sustainable forest management (SFM) with the Sabah State Government.

The main goal is to ensure that the timber resources will be maintained on a sustainable yield basis, with a commitment to protecting the natural resources and biological diversity of the natural forest. Sg Rawog is a conservation area covering 3,069 ha along the Sungai Rawog valley, serving as a wildlife corridor connecting Deramakot Forest Reserve & IOI Sdn Bhd. It is located within the Segaliud Lokan Forest Reserve in Sandakan, with a total area of 57,247 ha. This forest reserve has been managed by KTS Plantation since 1993. KTS Plantation Sdn Bhd always strives to enhance its knowledge on sustainable forest management as the way forward.

To enhance its conservation effort, a research collaboration has been established through a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Sabah Forestry Department, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and KTS Plantation in 2016, and it was recently renewed during the International Heart of Borneo (HoB) Conference in August 2023.Among the programmes of collaboration were wildlife survey, forest camp and forest rehabilitation assessment, and now it is this second scientific expedition’s. Plantation adopts sustainable forest practices in managing Segaliud Lokan Forest Reserve, and the company has won a few national level awards on forest conservation and environmental sustainability.

Documentation of biodiversity in the Sg Rawog Conservation Area is in line with the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Initiative, which emphasizes on forest conservation and the establishment of wildlife connectivity. Central to the HoB Initiative is the State Government policy in conserving its natural ecosystems through protected areas.For the terrestrial ecosystems in Sabah, to date, more than 27.3% of the state’s land area (about two million hectares) have been gazetted as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs), and this figure represents the largest network of TPAs in the country.

This expedition will be the second biodiversity documentation of this conservation area after the first one in 2018. Hence, the research findings will provide salient information to enhance the conservation effort of KTS in this reserve.A seminar will be held at a later date to disseminate information from the expedition, and a coffee table book will be produced to highlight the biodiversity of this area.

In his speech, Dato Henry Lau Lee Kong, the Managing Director of KTS Group of Companies, congratulated Sabah Forestry Department, especially the team from Forest Research Centre (FRC) and KTS Plantation for their joint effort to ensure this scientific expedition 2.0 is successfully carried out. Lau also expressed his gratitude to Sabah Forestry Department for once again allowing Segaliud Lokan Forest Reserve as the site for this scientific expedition.

“It is indeed an honour for KTSP to have this scientific expedition here in SLFR. On behalf of KTS Plantation, I would like to welcome all of the researchers that participate in this expedition with an open hand,” he said in the speech which was delivered by KTSP manager Collin Goh. “The previous expedition has opened our eyes that our conservation areas hold a great biodiversity potential and as we aim towards forest conservation through utilization, this will be a great opportunity to expand our Sustainable Forest Management efforts. “We hope this expedition will gives us what we needed to leap forward and be the benchmark for other FMUs. KTSP believes that this expedition are critical for maintaining sustainability forest management in SLFR as the more knowledge we gain about our forest, the better we can manage the reserve according to the SFM principles,” he added.