Seeing the Trees for the Forest
Yayasan Sime Darby and Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre launch environmental education gallery to educate the public on Malaysia’s rainforest trees
LAHAD DATU, 29 August: Surrounded by thousands of rainforest tree seedlings, students from Kolej Vokasional Lahad Datu were eager to explore and learn more about Malaysia’s rainforests into the newly officiated environmental education gallery at the Tropical Rainforest Living Collection Merisuli.

The gallery was established through a collaboration between Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC) within the Tropical Rainforest Living Collection (TRLC) Merisuli.

TRLC Merisuli is TRCRC’s flagship conservation site that sets out to protect Malaysia’s endangered tree species by taking action on the ground to address biodiversity loss and restore rainforests. The site was established in collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department, and currently holds over 15,000 saplings, mostly threatened tree species, grown from seeds TRCRC has collected to propagate and restore degraded forests.
Many tropical tree species in Malaysia face an elevated risk of extinction due to forest degradation, fragmentation and land use change. This is particularly important for Borneo, which has the greatest proportion of threatened tree species in the tropics. In Borneo, 191 tree species from the dipterocarp family have been assessed in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and have found to be near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered or extinct. TRCRC rescues these endangered tree species, nurtures them in their Tropical Rainforest Living Collections and then uses the seedlings to restore Malaysia’s forests.

“Teaching our youth about the importance of forest conservation and how we can manage and restore our rainforests is vital,” said Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli, Executive Director, Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre. “We are proud to have strong support from Sabah Forestry Department and Yayasan Sime Darby for our restoration commitment in Sabah and hope that other funders will also join in our larger effort to restore the Malaysian rainforests. We hope that the gallery will serve as a focal point to educate the community, volunteers, and visitors about rainforest trees and what can be done to protect them.”

Present at the officiation ceremony to officiate the gallery was YSD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, who believed that the gallery will help to increase awareness of the many tree species in Malaysian rainforests, and the importance of biodiversity and environmental conservation. “YSD also believes in the criticality of capacity building and awareness towards sustainable environment conservation. We believe that by opening the doors of the TRLC Merisuli Environmental Education Gallery to the public, more visitors especially the youth, will be able to learn about the importance of preserving tropical rainforests and be inspired to play an active role in conservation work," she said.

YSD's support for the TRLC Merisuli in collaboration with TRCRC is for RM2.9 million for 3 years. The project which is fully funded by YSD focuses on preserving endangered, rare and threatened tree species; germinating, planting and stocking up of seedlings within the nursery; and improving the conservation capacity and awareness of stakeholders.

"YSD’s support also includes supporting 16 TRCRC project team members who are from the local communities in Merisuli. YSD believes that capacity-building the local communities is crucial towards sustainability," Yatela further added.

YSD’s previous collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department to reforest and rehabilitate 5,400ha of the northern Ulu Segama-Malua area had also included collaboration with the local communities. Currently, YSD’s support in Sabah cover the collaboration with Nestle with the Rileaf project to plant a million trees in the riparian reserves along the Kinabatangan river, with PONGO Alliance towards developing landscapes that facilitate human and orangutan co-existence, and a second collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department to train and fund a new Protect Team to combat poaching in the forest reserves of Sabah; and these projects also focus on capacity-building of the local communities for a longer-lasting positive impact.

Since 2009, the foundation has committed more than RM153 million under its environment pillar, out of which RM90.5 million is for Sabah; towards the protection of high conservation value ecosystems, vulnerable and endangered species as well as initiatives promoting the preservation of the environment and biodiversity.

Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli and Benny Banus Tuzan of TRCRC discuss the proper care of seedlings with Dr. Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Chief Executive Officer, Yayasan Sime Darby and students from Kolej Vokasional Lahad Datu
(L-R) Benny Banus Tuzan, Project Manager TRLC Merisuli, TRCRC and Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli, Executive Director, TRCRC demonstrate how to mix planting media to Dr. Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Chief Executive Officer, Yayasan Sime Darby
Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli briefs the guests on TRCRC activities during their visit to the Environmental Education Gallery
KLVD Students planting trees at TRLC Merisuli
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Last Updated:
09 Oct 2019
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