Kembara Rimba Taliwas is an interactive environmental education experience where young Sabahans discover biodiversity, explore natural history, and gain an understanding of current issues affecting rainforests and local people.

A new generation of
environmental champions

About the Project

Together with Sabah Nature Club under the Sabah Foundation and Swansea University UK, we launched a new and exciting environmental education experience in Sabah. This project, supported by the National Geographic Society, aims to mentor a new generation of environmental champions through participatory science and capacity building in one of Borneo’s last remaining lowland rainforest – the Taliwas River Conservation Area.

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In 2023, we have worked with a network of secondary schools in using INaturalist to observe rainforest biodiversity in Taliwas. Students had the opportunity to experience the wonders and excitement of discovering fascinating species of flora and fauna, and help inspire them to become the new generation of local champions in protecting and conserving our rainforest.

To do this, we tapped into the extensive knowledge and experience of the Sabah Foundation forest officers and SEARRP research assistants to guide students on their journey of discovery. In this project, the officers and research assistants were trained in environmental education techniques and delivery so that they can mentor local students as they explore one of Borneo’s last remaining lowland rainforest.

In October 2018, a similar programme was launched through the Science-based Environmental Education and Outreach Series which focussed on exploring key environmental challenges of our time. Now, we want to broaden this experience through this project and ensure that our environmental education modules can be replicated in other programmes across Malaysia over time.

Mentoring young naturalist to explore and document the biodiversity of the Taliwas River Conservation Area

Project Focal Areas

Delivering interactive and effective environmental education is central in making complex scientific information about the environment and climate change accessible and relevant to the next generation of environmental leaders.

We have designed this project around four core areas.

Develop and deliver science-based environmental education modules.

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We have engaged with local stakeholders in the cocreation and designing of environmental education content and modules. These modules were targeted at secondary school students to learn about lowland forest biodiversity and the consequent impacts of their loss.

Capacity building to become mentors and science storytellers of local biodiversity knowledge

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Sabah Foundation rangers, and SEARRP research assistants were trained with the skills and confidence to present modules and science storytelling to youths as well as to use the INaturalist platform through a train-the-trainers programme.

Launch and use INaturalist as an interactive tool

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The community of participants were trained to use INaturalist to document biodiversity of the lowland forest of Taliwas and communicate its conservation significance to the global audience.

Mentor and nurture young naturalists

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We engaged with secondary school students from the Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu and Tawau districts. The programme launched an introductory module delivered to each school through online outreach programmes in 2022. This was followed by a field trip where students and teachers visited Taliwas and were guided in exploring the forests and biodiversity of the area and document their observations using INaturalist. After the field trip, our team visited students at their schools to talk about what they discovered in Taliwas and relate their observations to the importance of forest conservation.

We will build capacity and empower local forest rangers and research assistants to engage students in discovering rainforest biodiversity and importance of forest conservation

Do you know where the world’s tallest known tropical tree is located?

It is in Danum Valley! And SEARRP’s team climbed it to measure all 100.8 meters (330.7 ft) of it, making this the first 100 meter tropical tree recorded anywhere in the world.

Have you heard of the famous Belian tree? Also known as Ironwood because it is the heaviest, hardest and most valuable tree in Borneo?

Imbak Canyon is home to the BIG BELIAN tree, estimated to be 1,000 years old and has a diameter of 2.4meters!

Do you know that Borneo has the smallest subspecies of elephant in the world?

The Borneo pygmy elephant is less than 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) tall, making them the smallest Asian elephant subspecies.

Did you know Sabah is home to the biggest insect in the world?

It is something called a stick insect (Phobaeticus chani) because it looks like a stick or branch and can measure as long as a 30cm ruler!

Did you know the Sumatran Rhinoceros is now extinct in Malaysia?

The last wild Sumatran Rhinoceros in Sabah was found at Danum Valley in 2013.

Have you heard of a heritage zone where people are only allowed to visit once every 50 years?

It’s true and one exists in Maliau Basin – the ‘Lost World’ of Sabah – and this area is safeguarded from visitors to ensure that it will still be here for future generations to explore and discover!

Have you heard of pitcher plants?

There are tons of these amazing carnivorous plants  across Borneo, but in Maliau Basin – there is a pitcher plant the size of pen tip!

Did you know that Danum Valley has one of the most complex ecosystems in the world?

This is why Scientist have voted Danum Valley Field Centre as one of the THREE top research stations in the world!

Do you know some mushrooms can glow in the dark?

There are more than 30 types of bioluminescent (glow in the dark mushrooms) in Sabah!









Additional Info

For more information please contact SEARRP’s

Environmental Education and Outreach Manager Imelda Geoffrey.