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© Naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF


The Sabah Landscapes Programme identified three important landscapes within Sabah to deliver the broader approach to protect, produce and restore in Tawau, Tabin dan Lower Sugut.

Landscapes are defined as a socio-ecological system that consists of natural and/or human modified ecosystems, and which is influenced by distinct ecological, historical, economic and socio-cultural processes and activities. Using this criteria, WWF-Malaysia has identified three major landscapes within Sabah where it will carry out its three-pillar (Protect, Produce and Restore) approach. These identified landscapes are Tawau, Tabin and Lower Sugut. Additionally, conservation efforts will also be applied on a smaller scale to three other landscapes - Kalabakan, Central Forests and Ulu-Padas Nabawan.


The Tawau Landscape comprises 405,923 ha of land. At the centre of this landscape is the Tawau Hills Park and adjacent to it, the Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve. Together, the Tawau Hills Park and the Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve is home to a range of vulnerable and threatened species: elephants, orangutans, helmeted hornbills, clouded leopards, banteng and various other primate species and a rich avifauna. The tallest tree in the world, at a record height of 96.9 m (Shorea faguetiana) is also found in the area. This single forest block is an important part of the statewide HCV/HCS area, and the water catchment is essential to local townships which are already suffering from water under supply.


The Tabin Wildlife Reserve (123,779 ha) was established in 1984 with additional area included as part of the reserve. This substantial reserve is largely surrounded by oil palm plantations, with the Silabukan Forest Reserve (10,600 ha) about 5km to the south, and Kulamba Wildlife Sanctuary (20,682 ha) across the Segama River to the north. Recent wildlife surveys have confirmed the great conservation importance of Tabin. It holds the largest Bornean orangutan population in the eastern lowlands; some 1,200 individuals. It is also home to other Borneo endemic species such as the Bornean elephant (ca. 350 individuals), the Bornean banteng (< 50 animals), and Sunda clouded leopard (<40 animals).


The Lower Sugut Landscape (217,046 hectares) is situated in northeastern Sabah. The Sugut River headwaters originate from the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, flowing eastwards to meet extensive alluvial plains and then drain into the Sulu Sea. The upper part of the Sugut River Basin is largely dominated by settlement areas and agricultural land cultivated by the local people. Many of them earn their living through small-scale oil palm plantations (smallholders), rubber, fruit trees and fishing. The Lower Sugut is dominated by Class 1 Forest Reserves and large oil palm plantations. Based on WWF-Malaysia’s aerial orangutan nest survey, large orangutan populations in the landscape were recorded in the Trusan Sugut Forest Reserve and Lingkabau Forest Reserve. Aside from Bornean orangutans, Lower Sugut is also home to Bornean bantengs as well as proboscis monkeys at the riverine and mangrove areas.

How do the Landscape Spatial Plans help conserve our natural resources and reduce land use conflict?

Elaine Clara Mah  |  emah@wwf.org.my
Tan Su Lin  |  sltan@wwf.org.my

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