Featured Post

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Dear MNS-Kuching Branch members,


MNS, with funding from the MBZ Species Conservation Fund, is currently compiling a directory on congregating firefly zones (CFZs) along the mangrove-lined rivers of Malaysia. A preliminary CFZ directory will be compiled in January using data already available, and this will be updated periodically as new data becomes available from field surveys.

The MNS Secretariat has requested the assistance of the East Malaysian branches to gather and update, as necessary, information on CFZs in Sabah and Sarawak. Both Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and Universiti Sabah Malaysia (UMS) have indicated their interest to assist with the compilation of the CFZ for Sarawak and Sabah, respectively.

Once completed, the directory will be made available to decision-makers in both these states, to aid in the conservation and management of CFZs in both states.

To this end, the MNS Secretariat and MNS Kuching Branch, in collaboration with UNIMAS, will organize a 2-day workshop (indoor, with some outdoor field work) which aims to introduce participants to the methodology and techniques used to undertake firefly surveys (including the design of monitoring forms), and define ways to involve local communities in firefly survey and monitoring.

The details of the workshop are as follows:

Dates: 5 & 6 December 2009
Venue: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Kota Samarahan

5 December (Saturday)
2:30 p.m. Indoor workshop: Introduction to firefly survey and monitoring
5:00 p.m. Departure for field survey (weather permitting)
8:00 p.m. End

6 December (Sunday)
2:30 p.m. Indoor session: Review of the findings of the field survey, and drafting of the monitoring form
5:00 p.m. Outdoor session: (provisional, if field survey was not possible before)
8:00 p.m. End

Note: The field survey is subject to weather and sea conditions and can only be confirmed on the day of the field trip. In the event that we are unable to conduct the field survey on the 5th evening, we will try again for the evening of the 6th.

The workshop will involve participants from MNS Secretariat, MNS Kuching Branch, MNS Miri Branch, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, Universiti Sabah Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

Participation in the workshop and field survey is free-of-charge. However, spaces in the boats for the field surveys are limited so these will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants will need to arrange their own transport to and from the workshop venue and to Kampung Buntal for the field surveys. Car-pooling is encouraged. Final details about the venue and instructions for the field trip will be provided to all registered participants.

The workshop and field surveys are open to all interested MNS-Kuching Branch members. Please register by sending an email to the mnskuching@gmail.com address with the following details:

I.C. Number:
Mobile contact number:
Daytime telephone number:
Email address:

Registration closes on Tuesday, 2nd December 2009.

Please call or text Rebecca at 019 857 9110 for further information.

Thank you.

Rebecca D’Cruz
MNS-Kuching Branch 2009/2010


Dear members,

I just read in the newspaper that there will be a three-day conference on natural resources and environment in Kuching. It is called "International Conference On Natural Resources and Environment Management Safety and Healthy Exhibition 2009."

Date: Nov 24 to 26

Venue: Four Points by Sheraton Kuching

The exhibition at the conference is open to the public from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Nov 24, 9.30am to 12 noon on Nov 25 and Nov 26. So, drop by at Four Points if you're interested to look at the exhibition.

Love Life, Love Nature


Zora Chan


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch: "Totally Protected Areas in Sarawak"

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch: "Totally Protected Areas in Sarawak"

Memorable Pulau Selingan (Turtle island) in Sabah

By Cynthia Hazebroek

My family, including 2 kids Iris 11 and Oscar 13, came last year in July to pay me a visit and one of their wishes was to see turtles since they had missed them on an earlier holiday in Surinam (South America).

We were very lucky to get rooms on Pulau Selingan (Turtle Island) since it was high season and they only accommodate 38 persons per night in order to protect the turtles.

It is the second largest of this small group of three islands and most developed. The island is 8 hectares and the Sea Turtle Conservation Program protects not only these islands but also the shallow waters surrounding them as they are part of Turtle Islands Park. On August 1st 1966 the first hatchery in Malaysia was set up on this island and funded entirely by the State Government. This program is administrated by Sabah Parks.

July to October is the peak season for Green Turtles ( Chelonia mydas) but also Hawksbills ( Eretmochelys imbricata) lay their eggs here.

The island lays in the Sulu Sea 40 km north of Sandakan and when we arrived at the park rangers gave us a short briefing about Park regulations and divided us into smaller groups. This prevents turtles which are laying eggs from being stressed by too many people crowding around.

One of Park regulations is that visitors are not allowed to go to the beach from sunset to sunrise since the turtles are already near the shore and waiting until the right time to get to the shore. The park also allows visitors to see only one landing and they call the group as soon as a turtle is ready and in a trance to lay their eggs.

During daytime the place is ideal for snorkeling and swimming and after 6pm got an explanation tour at their excellent visitors centre while waiting for their call. They put us in the first group since we had two kids with us and luckily at 7.30 a turtle came laying her eggs. Since we were not allowed to use a torchlight we had to walk really carefully so as not to fall into the old nests and the place was really wobbly. The kids were very excited when they saw the turtle laying her eggs and the park guards counted 90 eggs from this nest. Only people that had paid a small fee to take photographs were allowed to go a bit closer to take a picture without flash.
After the huge turtle laid her eggs the guards dug them out and took them to the hatchery. This is to ensure that wild predators, such as the monitor lizards, do not eat the eggs. Each pit is 30 inches deep, fenced around with wire mesh and identified by a bamboo marker bearing the serial number of the nest, collection date and number of eggs.

After an incubation period of between 50 and 60 days, the hatchlings dig their way up to the surface of the pit, usually at night, when the sand is cooler. The kids were also happy that baby turtles from previous nights came out and were released that night. Sadly the guards didn’t allow the kids to release even one since that would have made this night even more memorable. The kids were really disappointed. In Surinam the guard was much friendlier and had given the baby turtle to my other niece Tessa and she was thrilled.
Early the next morning when my brother, my husband and the kids went out for a morning walk they found a full-grown turtle stuck between the rocks and she was absolutely exhausted. There was no way to get her back to the sea without more manpower and after 10 strong man helped her she made her way back into the sea and we hope she comes back maybe many years later to lay her eggs.

After breakfast before we went to our boats we saw on the notice board that 46 turtles came to shore that very night, 3911 eggs were laid and 911 baby turtles were released. Let’s hope that all the babies will survive their first trip which may span thousands of kilometers of open ocean waters with many predators, and will come back when they are mature to lay their eggs for the next generation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Totally Protected Areas in Sarawak"

STA will be organizing a STA Tea Talk. Details as follow :

Topic : Totally Protected Areas in Sarawak
Speaker : Mr Ngui Siew Kong, Senior Assistant Director,
Nature Conservation and Constitution Division
Date : Saturday, 28 November 2009

Venue : Wisma STA, Level 12, Kuching
Time : 9.30 ~ 10.00 am (Registration), 10.00 ~
11.30am (STA Tea Talk plus light Refreshment)

Totally Protected Area (TPA) is a term reserved for national park, nature
reserve and wildlife sanctuary. The talk will explain the definitions of
different categories of Totally Protected Areas and the criteria for
establishing them. The talk will also touch on the current status of the
constitution of TPAs, management objectives, threats as well as the present
and future actions to be undertaken by the authorities. You are invited to
come and attend this Talk to know more about protected areas.

Entrance is free. However, due to logistics, entrance will be restricted to
only those who have registered. To register, kindly call STA at 082-332 222
latest by Wednesday, 25 November 2009.

Thank you.
Have a nice day !
STA Secretariat Kuching
------------------------------------------------------ REPLY SLIP
TO : STA Tea Talk Secretariat
FAX : 082-487 888 or 487 999
Please register me for your STA Tea Talk
Name : __________________________________________________________

Organisation : ____________________________________________________

Fax : _______________________

Phone : _______________________

Email : _______________________

Heritage walk invitation

Dear Members,

Please be informed that the Sarawak Heritage Society (SHS) has extended an invitation to us to its coming Heritage Walk. SHS is organising a historical building visit to the St. Joseph Old Cemetary at 1:00p.m on 22nd November 2009 (Sunday), and the guide for the visit is SHS treasurer, Ms. Peggy Wong.

If you are interested, please contact SHS secretary, Mr. Bong Siak Khiun directly at 019-8862249, and participants are advised meet at the carpark to the cemetary (next to St. Joseph Cathedral) this Sunday. Thank you.

Zora : )

Sunday, November 15, 2009


If you have the chance, why not plant a tree? Trees can make a real difference to the place they are planted. They bring all sorts of benefits. Planting them doesn’t take much time or money. All you need is a site, a seedling and a little knowledge. Your tree will have effects that last and knock-on for years.

One of the best ways to plant trees is through the community – join a programme where the issues of where to plant your tree, what species to choose, where to get the seedlings and how to maintain the tree have all been taken care of. And as a community, we have the chance to plant trees together to create a new environment or rehabilitate a degraded one. Our trees will be synergistic (1+1=more than 2). We can watch them grow over the years and see what wildlife takes up residence while doing our bit to offset our carbon footprint.

We in Malaysia are blessed with a year-round growing season and land which, except for the very tops of mountains, can support trees. Why, we can even plant mangroves in the sea! Come, let us plant some trees! Here are some of the excellent reasons why we should...

The rays of the midday sun can be pretty powerful. But shade trees not only intercept that energy but use it (for photosynthesis) while letting us keep our cool.

Animals and birds need food and a place to live. Our wild fig trees provide plentiful fruits in a range of sizes. Leafy tree crowns provide cover. Hornbills nest in holes in tree trunks. Plants, too, grow on trees. Epiphytes (plants growing on another plant) in our highly humid environment include fern species, moss, Pigeon orchids and Entaban. You may find lichens too. Insects will be there. Some ants use epiphytic ferns as their habitat. So all in all, without trees there would be a bit less biodiversity in our environment.

Your carbon footprint is the direct effect your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions (the fuel you burn in your car; the electricity you use at home etc.) Green plants are factories that convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water, through photosynthesis, into glucose, releasing oxygen (O2) in the process, Plants synthesise cellulose and other components of wood, locking up the carbon dioxide as long as the wood is not burned or broken down by microbes. Thus trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas implicated in Global Warming so planting trees can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and thus impact Global Warming.

Trees along busy roads can help absorb traffic noise and catch dust and other pollutants on their leaves, improving our human habitat.

We can create a pleasant landscape from a bare area by planting trees. We can also enjoy the intrinsic beauty of the trees - their shape, size, form, variety, bark, foliage, flowers and fruits.

When forest is cleared the land may remain bare, with exposed soil, grasses and herbs and perhaps some pioneer tree species. We do not normally expect the original type of plant community (same species, same proportions, same age mix) to regenerate in the short term. Planting selected tree species can help rehabilitate badly degraded and cleared areas and influence how plant succession proceeds.

Our predecessors lived among and by the trees. Coastal peoples knew exactly which trees to use for boats, jetties, firewood, fruits, lustrous timber for carvings, medicine and preservatives for fishing nets. Likewise the peoples of the interior had a deep and extensive knowledge of hundreds of different tree species in their area, and their uses. Nowadays the forests continue to diminish and knowledge of the trees becomes ever rarer. One way to make this information available to the next generations is to plant trees. Let us plant tree specimens so that young people recognise our most famous timber trees and see the products our predecessors obtained from the trees around them. This is our heritage.

Timber for the timber man, fruits for the consumer, forest products for the forest dweller and entrepreneur.

One of the best reasons for planting trees is the amazing ‘return on investment’ and the chance to make a mark on the landscape, to come back after years and see it still there, improving the environment; supporting other organisms.

Green lungs

Green Oasis
by Mary Margaret
Photo credit Cynthia L

Breathe in the oxygen rich air. Let your eyes feast upon the green leaves. Open your ears to the call of birds or the absence of traffic. Feel life below your feet. Listen with all your senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and feel – listen with your soul. You are in a green oasis – the small patches of green which dot the concrete deserts of cities. You feel life awakening in every nerve. Breathe in and . . .
Kuching has been called a garden city because there are many green places (green oasis) dotting the city landscape - from the grass covered Central Padang which is shaded by many fantastically old trees; to the Museum Gardens and Reservoir Park (now known as Taman Budaya); to the manicured lawns of Friendship Park; to the home gardens and patches of grass in subdivisions; to Sama Jaya Nature Reserve in Tabuan Jaya. We in Kuching are truly fortunate to have so many green places.

These parks are an important part of the urban landscape for many reasons. The first reason that pops into mind is recreation. The parking lots at Sama Jaya Forest Reserve and Reservoir Park are full in the late afternoon as many people living in Kuching go walking or jogging or running. Exercise, as does nature, reduces stress. Families and friends are out taking in a breath of fresh.
A quick visit to an urban park can let us reconnect to nature. We attempt to control the environment in which we live by, for example building houses and air conditioning them (in the tropics) or heating them (in temperate areas) – and even here our actions are affected and controlled by the weather and climate – elements of the natural world. So the visit to Sama Jaya Forest Reserve is a reminder that we are part of the natural world. We can feel a sense of spiritual renewal when we make this reconnection.

A Refuge
Parks and gardens provide a refuge for nature. All sorts of birds, insects, mammals and other animals can be seen in the park – if you stop to listen and look. A quiet stretch at one of the small gazeboes (‘pondok’) in Sama Jaya Forest Park will let you into the secret lives of birds as small forest birds flit from tree to tree. Squirrels and Long-Tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) flit from tree top to tree top as they look down at the runners who are staring up at them. Frogs and lizards make this minute patch of forest and small streams home too. It is here that nature can exist side by side with cities. Thus urban parks can be a living classroom for visitors to experience the joys of nature first hand.

Keeping Cool
A tree lined street is just so much cooler than one edged with concrete walls. The temperature is noticeably cooler under the ballooning branches of a tree. We actively seek the shade during hot days. Trees not only cool the air, but are carbon sinks – they store a lot of carbon in their woody trunks, roots and branches. Carbon Dioxide one of the main pollutants contributing to the warming of the Earth is also a key ingredient in the process of photosynthesis. This is the process in which green plants use the energy from to build complex substances from Carbon Dioxide and water. And another end product is Oxygen which is released into the air. The Carbon which is used to build these complex substances remains tied up until plant dies and decomposes or used as a source of energy, for example the burning wood.

Sama Jaya Nature Reserve
The 38-hectare Sama Jaya Nature Reserve is an important green patch in Tabuan Jaya and for other areas of Kuching. This small patch of mainly secondary forest is the focus for the volunteer driven community events for the Trees For Life Project, a jointly organized activity by the Malaysian Nature Society – Kuching Branch and the Sarawak Forest Cooperation. This project started in July 2007 and aimed to stress the vital roles of trees in safeguarding the environment and reducing the impact of global warming. Volunteers have planted and maintained trees. There have also been many learning and thought provoking activities. The volunteers have given to an urban park which has probably made their lives more pleasant.

In short urban parks, green lungs, green oasis are key parts of the city landscape because they:
• places to relax and exercise
• refuge for wildlife
• create pleasantly green landscapes
• provide shade
• reduce pollution
• provide educational opportunities
• provide opportunities for connecting with nature.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Invitation to biosafety workshop

Dear all,
MNSKB received an invitation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Ministry (NRE) to attend a workshop.

The workshop is called "Sarawak Stakeholders Workshop On Biosafety". It will be held on Nov 19 and 20 (Thu & Fri) at Four Points Sheraton Hotel.

Both days start at 9am and ends around 5pm. On the first day, we have to be there earlier for registration that starts at 8.30am. We're also invited to attend a dinner on Nov 19 at 8pm.

Speakers will be from government agencies like NRE and they will talk on National Biotechnology Policy, Malaysian Biosafety Act 2007, Introduction to Capacity building Activities for the Implementation of the Cartegena Protocol and the Malaysian Biosafety Act, Genetically Modified Food, etc.

Please let me know by Nov 10 or this tuesday if u would like to take part in the workshop, coz if none of the committee can go, i will open the invitation to members. Pls sms me (019-8279881) to let me know if you're going. faster that way. Seats are limited, first come, first serve basis is applied. Thanks

Love Life, Love Nature

:) zora

Monday, November 2, 2009

Borneo Highlands Welcomes Birds and Birders

By Mary Margaret /Photo copyright by Robert Yeoh

The second annual Mini-Bird race organized by the Kuching Branch of the Malaysian Nature Society and the Borneo Highlands Resort took off on October 4, 2009 with 24 teams composed of two people. Students from University Sarawak Malaysia came out in full force comprising 80 percent of the teams and taking home the three top prizes. Congratulations!
First place went to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', otherwise known as Isa Sait and Isham Azhar who sighted 44 species of birds in the half-day event.
Bird races are fun and exciting, but there is a serious side. The data collected provides wildlife researchers with background information on bird populations and an understanding of their dynamics, for example fluctuations in populations and species composition. 11 species were sighted in the area for the first time this year including a Rhinoceros Hornbill. This rare and exciting sighting was made in the early morning by a MNS member at the Kalimantan / Sarawak border.
The Borneo Highlands Resort, about an hours drive south of Kuching, is in the Penrissen Range which is recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International, a global partnership of conservation groups. Recognized IBAs have large numbers of threatened or endemic birds and are key biodiversity areas.
The habitats are varied and as we travel upwards towards the ridge that marks the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan, we can observe the transition of secondary forest with a few large dipterocarp trees to misty montane forest which occurs at about 900 metres. The forest skirts the edge of the golf course and on the lower slopes paddy fields all of which add to the array of habitats.
From a birding point of view it was a fantastic day, but activities did not stop with the bird race. Non-birders had the opportunity to learn about birds and photographing them; and ecology through talks and walks.
As city dwellers we create artificial (we believe) fully controlled environments. We cool our homes, create gardens that suit our tastes and travel about in cars. We often forget the power of Mother Nature (remember the terrifying storms that have recently rocked the region) and our dependency on the forest. Our survival and wellbeing are intricately interwoven within the circles of life that radiate from all the world's ecosystems.
Jungle fruits such as durian are much sought after by humans and other forest dwellers such as orang-utans. We chanced upon two such trees that stood like sentinels guarding a bridge. They overlooked a stream rolling across a pebble bed - a perfect spot for a cooling dip in clean mountain waters and lunch. We think that trees were 'planted' when the seeds were tossed aside after the consumption the creamy durian flesh.
The trees do not exist independent of other life. Numerous insects and other invertebrates live amongst the foliage as do birds and other animals such as squirrels. Cave fruit bats ('Eonycteris spelea') are responsible most pollination of durian flowers. Without the bats there is no fruit. This single, relatively simple example demonstrates that no living creature is an island.
We were able to see many fig trees along the trail and about 92 of the more than 1000 species are found in Sarawak. A few, like the strangling figs grow rapidly into large conspicuous trees, but most are small trees found along streams, imbedded in rocky cliffs or on landslips. The unusual vase-shaped fruits are vital sources of food for birds, including hornbills, monkeys, squirrels, civets and large herbivores such as wild boar.
Each species of fig has a complex and fascinating relationship with a corresponding fig wasp. The pollination of the flowers that leads to the development of fruit only occurs in the presence of the correct species of fig wasp.
The female wasp wriggles its way through the scales of the fruit which protect the flowers growing inside this protective covering. Here it lays its eggs and dies. The eggs hatch, the female wasps leave, after mating with the males and receiving a dusting of pollen, to lay her eggs inside of another fig to continue the cycle of life not only of the plant, but all the life that twirls around it and the forest.

The Raptor Watch - a yearly event at Tanjung Tuan/ Port Dickson.

By Cynthia Lobato (published in Borneo Post MNS column April 2009)
Photo credit Cynthia and Hans

The Raptor Watch (RW) weekend fell this year on 14 and 15 March at Tanjung Tuan in Port Dickson. This event has been high on my list to participate in - and at last I made it.

RW, organized by the Malaysian Nature Society HQ (MNS), is a festival to celebrate the return of the migratory birds of prey (for example eagles and hawks), better known as raptors, on their journey back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. RW is a public event meant to raise awareness about the conservation of raptors and their habitats.

During the spring migration you can see thousands of raptors flying across the Straits of Malacca. Having to use a massive amount of energy to fly across the Straits, the raptors will be flying low at the event site, making it possible to have a good view of these magnificent birds.

Tanjung Tuan is noted as an important birdwatching area because it is an important stopover site for migratory raptors after crossing the Straits of Malacca from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The primary forest on this cape provides food for the raptors as well as a resting spot. For raptors arriving late in the evening, it provides shelter for the night before they take off for flight the next day.

Without Tanjung Tuan, many raptors may never make it back to their breeding grounds, due to exhaustion and lack of food. Tanjung Tuan has been a forest reserve since 1921, when 80.97 hectares were gazetted as the Hutan Simpanan Cape Rachado. However 16.19 hectares were degazetted in 1969 for public use. On 5 January 1971, the remaining 60.70 hectares were gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary.

Since it is well known that the best time to see raptors is between 11 till 3p.m., we went uphill to the lighthouse on Saturday morning around 11 a.m. This is the oldest still functioning lighthouse in Malaysia. It is 94 m above sea level you have a magnificent view across the Straits and can even see Sumatra on a clear day.

The best time is late morning because the birds wait until the island of Sumatra is heated up by the sun. It is then that the warmed air rises up strongly; the birds use these thermal currents to gain height by just spreading their wings. They are carried upward by the air currents.

We were surrounded by a group MNS volunteers, who were counting the birds to keep complete records. The counting of the raptors flying over Tanjung Tuan started in 2000 and is undertaken from around the middle February to the end of April. There also were groups from Japan and Thailand watching and helping to count the raptors.

We waited and waited and waited, but there were no signs of any birds. We could see that it was raining in Sumatra, cloudy and very windy, and got worried that they couldn’t fly that day since they need good weather and little wind At 4 p.m. the only raptor we had seen was a resident White-bellied Sea Eagle sitting on her nest. As there was not much action we left hoping that the next day would be better.

On Sunday at noon we were again at the same spot and the volunteers who were there much earlier had not seen any birds, but the weather was good with a clear sky, wind speed 0, visibility 38 km, 60% cloud cover and 34oC.

Suddenly a yell sounded and there they came.It was spectacular!! The volunteers counted at least a thousand birds. Everybody was excited and cameras were clicking, binoculars and telescopes were pointing at the birds flying above and below us. When the birds began to circle high above us, we caught at least nine in one picture.

One of the birders told us that the raptors were also using the hot air that comes from the ships to gain height and through the telescopes we could see this happening. They fly in large flocks catching thermals, which take them to greater heights.

The biggest group of migratory birds we saw were the Crested Honey Buzzards (Pernis ptilorhynchus) in Malay, Helang Lebah. Their habitat is forest, heavily wooded areas, open country (during migration), and they feed on bee and wasps’ larvae and from time to time little frogs and other small reptiles

Breeding is throughout northern temperate Asia, India, and Southeast Asia, discontinuously to the Greater Sundas and the Philippines. Another raptor that we saw was the Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes), Malay name: Helang Baza. The Black Baza normally eats beetles but also consumes other animals such as bats, small mammals, lizards, other birds and tree frogs.

The Black Baza breeds in the lower Himalayas from Nepal to Szechwan and southern China. It typically spends the winter in southern India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Malaysia and
Thailand. Avoiding open country and rainforest, its preferred habitat is drier seasonal forest.

Also seen that day were Brahman Kites, Fork Tailed Swifts, Changeable Hawk Eagles and Grey-faced Buzzards. Other raptors seen are rare, including Chinese Goshawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, and Peregrine Falcon. Total raptor count that day was 1960.

You can find all the information on www.raptorwatch.org
I must admit that it was very much worth going and maybe, if possible, I will go again and hope to see more people from Sarawak at this spectacular event that only happens in March.


Presented at the 13th Annual General Meeting on 4 July 2009

Prepared by
Rebecca D’Cruz, Chair
MNS-Kuching Branch 2008/2009

With assistance from
The Kuching Branch Committee 2008/2009

Malaysian Nature Society - Kuching Branch
P.O. Box A144, Kenyalang Park, 93824 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
mnskuching@gmail.com; Tel: 082 428004 (Rebecca D’Cruz)

“Conservation is humanity caring for the future.”
Nancy Newhall
Writer on photography, conservation, and American culture (1908 – 1974)

The MNS-Kuching Branch has completed yet another exciting and fulfilling year, during which we had opportunity to celebrate our achievements, and learn from our experiences.

We have attracted new members, and lost others. We have successfully carried out conservation projects and programmes, and forged new partnerships along the way. We have provided opportunities aplenty for our members to experience and learn about the wonders of nature in Sarawak, and to contribute their efforts to protecting these natural wonders.

All these have managed to raise the profile of the Society, and helped cement our role as the premier nature conservation organization in the greater Kuching area.

We have managed to do this because of the support and contributions we have received from our members, the MNS Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, our partners within the government and private sectors, and our friends.
Our achievements

The MNS-Kuching Strategic Plan 2009-2012

"If you don't know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else."
Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra
former US Major League Baseball player and manager

At the MNS National AGM in August 2008 members, representing all the branches nationwide adopted the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020 to guide the implementation of the Society’s mission and to ensure that it is in line with existing government policies and plans, and with Malaysia’s international nature conservation commitments.

In response, the MNS-Kuching Branch Committee decided to draft a 3-year Strategic Plan, to cover the period 2009 – 2012, to communicate to the MNS Secretariat, MNS Council and other MNS branches how we propose to contribute to the implementation of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020.

Our Strategic Plan is also intended to:
a. provide a framework for the MNS-Kuching Branch to define its direction for the next three years, to make decisions on allocating its financial and manpower resources, and to monitor and assess the impacts and outcomes of its actions;
b. inform key partners and other interested parties about the Branch’s priorities, and to provide the opportunity to enhance existing partnerships and create new partnerships with like-minded organizations; and
c. solicit support from, and promote greater exchange and sharing of information and experiences within the MNS family.

To date, MNS-Kuching Branch remains the only branch in Malaysia to have taken this important step.

The vision, mission and guiding principles of our Plan are the same as that of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020.

The strategies and actions in our Plan were formulated based on an assessment of the priorities and challenges for nature conservation in Sarawak, and on the strengths and opportunities of the MNS-Kuching Branch in terms of its existing programmes, members’ skills and expertise, and partnerships.

It is important to note that not each and every issue that could be of relevance to nature conservation in Sarawak has been included in our Plan. Our Plan deals with those issues that have been identified, through the consultative process and the review of available information, as being the immediate key issues that the MNS-Kuching Branch is in a position to address in the coming three years.

Our Plan is, and will remain an organic document, i.e. it will be reviewed periodically and revised accordingly in response to emerging challenges and opportunities.

We are pleased to be able to present the draft MNS-Kuching Branch Strategic Plan 2009 - 2012 to our members, for adoption at the Branch AGM. We hope that you will afford the incoming Branch Committee every support in their efforts to implement the Plan over the coming 3 years.

Members who are interested to contribute to the implementation of the activities under the plan are asked to send a message (with your telephone contact details) to the Branch Secretary at mnskuching@gmail.com

I would like to thank all the members of the planning team for their input to the development of this draft Plan.

“Trees for Life” Community Project

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
Nelson Henderson, Author

This project, which we undertake jointly with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), is designed to create an opportunity for the residents of Kuching to actively participate in a community effort to realize the full potential of the Sama Jaya Nature Reserve (SJNR), and through this to raise their awareness and understanding of the value of the SJNR. We hope to use the lessons learnt from this project to develop a model for community participation in the conservation and management of an urban nature reserve, to catalyze similar initiatives in other urban areas.

For the second year running, we organized themed community events, which drew participation from schools, private sector organizations, and the general public. Four such events were organized this past year, with the flagship event being our 1st anniversary celebrations on 5 July 2008, officiated by Datu Haji Len Talif, Managing Director of Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Director of the Sarawak Forest Department.

This project continues to enjoy the support of a select number of organized groups, namely HSBC, International School Brunei, Eastern Oxygen and Cahya Mata Sarawak, and private individuals.

The tree-planting programme is continuing, guided by the Tree-Planting Master Plan for Sama Jaya Nature Reserve (Phase 1) developed jointly by SFC and MNS-Kuching Branch, and adopted in July 2008. A total of 229 trees have been planted to date, including 100 trees that were donated by the International School Brunei as part of their Million Tree Project. While not all of the trees planted have survived, replacements are planted as required and some of the earliest planted trees are performing excellently after two years.

In October 2008, students from Swinburne University developed a communications strategy for the project. In November 2008, we presented a joint SFC-MNS paper at the National Forestry Conference, hosted by the Sarawak Government, in which we discussed the partnership approach taken under this project, its achievements to date and the lessons learnt.

Following discussions with SFC at the end of 2008, we decided to scale down the activities proposed in the original project document to focus on implementation of the Tree-Planting Master Plan (Phase 1), and on organizing the community events.

In the past year we have worked to transfer more responsibility to the reserve staff to manage the volunteer program. To aid their efforts, we helped develop a ‘Tree-planting / Educational Programme Request Form’ for volunteer groups interested to participate in the planting effort, and a simple monitoring system to enable volunteers to assist with efforts to monitor the biological resources of the SJNR. We hope to be able to continue to provide our technical expertise and knowledge to support the conservation efforts at the SJNR, and eventually to be able to extend the rehabilitation efforts to the unused filled area of the park.

I would like to say a big thank you to Susan Teal and Kit Pearce for their huge contribution to this project, and to all the SJNR volunteers who have contributed their time and energy to lead activities during the community events.

Members who are interested to receive more information about, and volunteer some of their time to this project are asked to send a message (with your telephone contact details) to the Branch Secretary at mnskuching@gmail.com

Bako-Buntal Bay Project

This project aims to strengthen government-civil society partnerships to support wetland conservation and the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in four South-East Asian countries – Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. An important element of this project is to promote networking and the sharing of experiences between different countries to enhance wetland conservation.

The Bako-Buntal Bay in Sarawak is one of only two project sites in Malaysia, the other being the Kuala Selangor Nature Park in Selangor. Activities under this project include the setting-up of a Local Conservation Group to coordinate and implement the work, to organize educational and awareness-raising activities to increase understanding about the value of the area and to advocate for its protection, and to organize and participate in training workshops on assessing and monitoring biological diversity in the area.

We received formal approval from the Sarawak State Planning Unit in April 2009, a study team has been identified, and activities will begin with a multi-stakeholder workshop to be hosted by the State Planning Unit in the coming month.

I would like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to the members who have agreed to be part of the study team for this project, and those who have agreed to assist in other ways.

Members who are interested to receive more information about, and contribute some of their time to this project are asked to send a message (with your telephone contact details) to the Branch Secretary at mnskuching@gmail.com

MNS-Kuching Branch & Borneo Highlands Resort ‘Mini Bird Race’

The first-ever bird race in East Malaysia was organized at the Borneo Highlands Resort on 19 October 2008, and attracted 15 teams. The event was organized jointly by MNS-Kuching Branch and Borneo Highlands Resort (BHR), and included other activities such a nature photography exhibition, nature treks and activities for kids.

The 2nd Mini Bird Race is scheduled for 4 October 2009, and will again feature nature treks and other activities. A competition was held for students of Swinburne University to design the logo for the upcoming event. We would like to thank the staff and students of Swinburne University for their valuable contribution.

The BHR is located within the Penrissen Range which has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Discussions have been held with the BHR management and the MNS Secretariat about the possibility of conducting a formal launch the IBA site in conjunction with the 2nd Bird Race.

Nature-based activities for members

"The objective is to teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands."
Aldo Leopold
Author, conservationist, forester, educator (1887 – 1948)

Early in the term, the Committee took the decision to focus on developing nature trips that were of high quality in terms of their conservation education value. A lot of time was devoted to preparing for each trip, including conducting a site recce and preparing detailed information on the site prior to the trip. The feedback from participants has been very positive, with one of the 25 participants on the ‘Walk to Baruk Saga at Kampung Sudoh (Singai)’ on 3 August 2008 describing it as a “Walk with Meaning”.

I would like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to Georges & Jacinta Schneider, Cynthia Hazebroek and the members of the Kuching Branch Bird Group for succeeding in organizing high-quality trips filled with fun, adventure and learning.

In the past year, and in addition to the project-related activities described above, a total of 22 activities were organized for members and, in some cases open to the general public. Activities included nature trips (day & overnight), talks, and workshops.

The nature trips that attracted the most participants were the day trips: Geological Trip to Santubong (38), Safari along Samadang River (31), Walk to Baruk Saga (25), Kampung Pugu (19), and the 3-day camping trip to Tanjung Datu (22). Of the 5 nature talks that were organized, the most recent one, “Amphibian Ark” attracted the highest number of participants, i.e. 40.

In June 2008, we jointly organized a talk with the Department of Environment Kuching for members of the State Committee on Environment, which featured a guest speaker from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agency in the US who introduced a new conservation management tool called “TerraLook”.

In general, participation in activities by MNS members has been disappointing. I hope that members understand and appreciate the amount of volunteer time and effort that goes into organizing our activities and ask for your support for, and participation in future activities. The Committee would also be interested to receive suggestions from members on interesting sites to visit, and types of activities that they would be interested to participate in.

Borneo Post column

This year marks the 7th consecutive year of our weekly column (now featured in the “Nature & Cuisine” section of the Sunday edition of the Borneo Post, thanks to the tireless efforts of our Editor, Ann Armstrong. With a circulation of 6,000 copies per day, this continues to be our main vehicle for communications with the general public. It has succeeded in generating positive feedback, and the occasional request about MNS membership.

I would like to extend a great big ‘thank you’ to Ann for her untiring efforts to keep this initiative going.

On Ann’s behalf, I would like to thank Georges Schneider, Cynthia Hazebroek, Cheong Ah Kwan, Kit Pearce and Rebecca D’Cruz who have contributed articles this past year, and to extend an urgent call to other members to contribute articles so that we can keep this important initiative going. Those who are interested to contribute to the column are asked to send a message (with your telephone contact details) to the Branch Secretary at mnskuching@gmail.com

I would also like to record our heartfelt thanks to the management of the Borneo Post newspaper for continuing to provide us the column space free-of-charge.

Media coverage

MNS-Kuching Branch has enjoyed a considerable amount of positive coverage in the local media this past year, thanks in large part to the efforts of our Secretary Zora Chan. I would like to extend a great big ‘thank you’ to Zora for her continuing efforts to promote our branch and its activities here in Sarawak, despite her very busy schedule.

I would also like to record our heartfelt thanks to the media corps in Kuching for their support.

Responding to emerging issues

"Conservation... is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution..."
Aldo Leopold
Author, conservationist, forester, educator (1887 – 1948)

We continue to respond to, and engage with the relevant stakeholders on emerging issues which could have negative impacts on the natural heritage of Sarawak. One such example is our ongoing engagement with Rio Tinto of Australia and CMS Sarawak to provide input to the assessment of potential environmental impacts arising from the planned aluminum smelter in Bintulu. In order to facilitate this and to ensure consistency in our responses, we have formed a tripartite advisory group comprising the Chairs of the Kuching and Miri branches, and the Executive Director and Senior Policy Officer of the MNS Secretariat.

We have also responded to media requests to provide comments on issues such as increased flooding in the Kuching area, the potential impacts of global warming, and turtle conservation efforts.

We provided input to WLP Resource Mgmt Pty Ltd in their efforts to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed HT Power Line from Mambong to Serikin and on to Bengkayang in Kalimantan, which included a survey of the Malaysian side of the line. Our efforts were aimed at alerting them to nature conservation-sensitive areas such as the Bidi Limestones near Bau, and the crossing of the Sarawak Kiri River at Kampung Git.

Developing partnerships

a. Borneo Convention Centre Kuching
The MNS-Kuching Branch is pleased to announce its developing partnership with the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK). The primary objective of the partnership is to demonstrate how the combined assets of a nature conservation organization and a business entity can be a powerful tool to address the environmental sustainability challenges we face today.

Two key activities are planned under this partnership: the first, a ‘re-greening’ of the BCCK venue and its surrounds to serve as a living model of how it is both possible and practical to restore degraded lands in the tropics, as a contribution to global efforts to ‘re-green’ the earth.

The second, to develop a voluntary carbon emissions offset program to enable conference participants to contribute to mitigating the local impacts of global warming, and to demonstrate the BCCK’s contribution to Malaysia’s commitments under international climate-related agreements and treaties.

We believe that this partnership offers a potential win for both parties: the BCCK is provided the opportunity to market a ‘green’ conference venue and in turn, to provide opportunities for conference participants to be part of rehabilitation efforts; MNS is afforded an opportunity to contribute its expertise and to increase its level of experience in the rehabilitation of degraded lands.

b. Sarawak Biodiversity Centre
This year we have begun to engage more actively with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC). In November 2008, we organized a visit to the Centre in Semenggoh, and in January 2009, the Branch Chairperson was invited to present a talk on MNS during the SBC Motivational Workshop in Santubong.

Possible areas of collaboration between MNS and SBC include activities related to the documentation and dissemination of traditional knowledge related to the conservation and management of biodiversity resources, setting-up a database of species of high conservation value in Sarawak, and joint activities aimed at promoting greater awareness about Sarawak’s biodiversity and its conservation.

How we operated

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead
US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 - 1978)

The MNS-Kuching Branch Committee

The Branch Committee for this term comprised 9 elected members, and included 6 others who were co-opted onto the Committee to assist with its work.
Chairman: Rebecca D’Cruz
Vice Chairman: Georges Schneider
Secretary: Zora Chan
Treasurer: Jacinta Wong-Schneider
Committee: Ch’ien Chien Lee, Cheong Ah Kwan, Anthony Wong
Marilyn Ong Siew Ai, Cynthia Hazebroek
Co-opted members: Ann Armstrong (Communications), Susan Teal & Kit Pearce
(‘Trees for Life’ project), Kathy Oakley (marine conservation
issues), Collin Cheong, Tay Yit Ping (merchandise)

The full Committee met 3 times during this term, and in the interim conducted its work through email and telephone exchanges, and ad-hoc project and event-related meetings.

Members of the Committee also participated in the following workshops and symposia: Cost-Benefit Analysis Workshop (10-13 August 2008), Biodiversity and Biotechnology Symposium (19-21 November 2008), and Education for Sustainable Development (19 March 2009). Core funds from the Branch were used to partially support their participation, where necessary.

The Kuching Branch was also represented - by its Chair or Vice Chair - at all meetings of the MNS-Council held this term, and continues to provide feedback and input to the discussions via the MNS Chat Room.

The Kuching Branch Bird Group

"Birds, it must be admitted, are the most exciting and most deserving of the vertebrates; they are perhaps the best entrée into the study of natural history, and a very good wedge into conservation awareness."
Roger Tory Peterson
Artist, author, photographer, educator (1908 – 1996)

The Kuching Branch Bird Group, established in 2006, remains the only Special Interest Group within the MNS-Kuching Branch. In the past year, our team of bird enthusiasts continued to actively organize birding trips, surveys and workshops, in an effort to promote awareness and greater understanding about our feathered friends who visit and reside in the areas around Kuching. They conducted 6 birding trips, contributed to the Asian Annual Waterbird Census, and organized 1 workshop on shorebirds.

Elected Office Bearers for the 2009 – 2010 term are:

Group Advisor Anthony Sebastian
Group Coordinator Anthony Wong
Assistant Coordinator Yeo Siew Teck
Secretary Susan Teal
Assistant Secretary Cheong Ah Kwan
Treasurer Lucy Chong
Trip Coordinator Georges Schneider
Field Trip Leaders Daniel Jee & Kho Kay Kuang
Committee members Ting Ting King, Ch’ien Lee, Rose Au, Malin Ong,
& Daniel Kong


The audited accounts for the 2008/2009 term are presented as an annex to this report. The total income for the year (as at the close of accounts on 31 May 2009) amounted to RM 46,843.63 and total expenditure amounted to RM 19,266.27.

Balance carried forward amounts to RM 27,577.36 of which RM 2,508.75 is earmarked for the “Trees for Life” Community Project and RM 16,237.98 for the Bako-Buntal Bay Project, leaving a total of RM 8,810.63 in core funds. We expect to receive an additional RM 20,000 for the Bako-Buntal Bay Project from the donors later this year.


In effort to boost merchandise sales, the Branch Committee decided to enter into a profit-sharing agreement with one of our members, Ms Tay Yit Ping. Under this agreement, Yit Ping maintains our merchandise inventory, and promotes and manages the sale of all merchandise produced by MNS-Kuching (not merchandise purchased from the MNS Tapir Shop in Kuala Lumpur). She provides monthly reports to the Branch Committee on income generated from the sales, and an update of inventory in stock. In return, she receives a percentage share of the profits.

Income generated from the sale of merchandise has doubled since this agreement came into effect. I would like to extend our gratitude to Tay Yit Ping for agreeing to take on this role and for her hard work.

Cooperation with the MNS-Secretariat

During this term, we worked closely with the MNS-Secretariat and primarily the Conservation Division, on developing the Bako-Buntal Bay Project. We also consulted with both the Conservation and Communications Divisions, as necessary, to agree our response to emerging issues, and queries from the public.

We had contact with the Membership Officer to discuss ways to improve the management of our membership database. The Head of Services provided timely advice on issues related to branch administration and partnership development. We would like to extend our appreciation to the relevant members of staff for their assistance and support.

Cooperation with the MNS-Miri Branch

This term has seen a further cementing of our relationship with the MNS-Miri Branch. The Chairs of both branches are in regular contact via email to discuss issues of common interest, and to agree a common position/response. Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia with two branches and it is imperative that such communications are maintained and enhanced to ensure consistency in the messages that we put out, and sufficient geographical coverage in terms of our work. I would like to extend my gratitude to Nazeri Abghani, Chair of the Miri Branch for his enthusiasm and support.

The challenges we faced

a. Manpower: The lack of full-time personnel to coordinate and manage our day-to-day activities remains a big challenge. We are entirely dependent on the voluntary contribution of time and manpower from members to plan, organize and undertake events and activities. Concurrently, and as the profile of MNS increases in Sarawak, we are faced with an increasing number of requests from all quarters, including members, to respond to, and engage in a greater number of initiatives and programmes. This situation is not likely to change until and unless we can procure funding to support the appointment of a full- or part-time Coordinator.

b. ‘Activating’ members: While we have a small group of members who turn out regularly to participate in, and volunteer their time to assist with activities and programmes, the response from the wider membership to requests for volunteer assistance has been disappointing. We hope that MNS-Kuching members will consider giving some of their time in the coming year to participate in, and help out with the planned projects and programmes. Please send an email (with your telephone contact details) to the Branch Secretary at: mnskuching@gmail.com if you are willing to do so.

c. Membership:

Year Total number of members as at 31 May
2004 86
2005 91
2006 115
2007 101
2008 105
2009 97

A quick analysis of Kuching Branch membership over the last 6 years reveals that membership numbers have remained stagnant at an average of 99 per year.

A recent analysis by the MNS Council revealed that membership numbers have been declining across the Society in recent years. The reasons for this are not clear; however, early indications point to a problem with member retention, i.e. being able to retain members once they’ve sign-up. This issue is being looked into by the MNS Council and actions will be identified to address this. Our Strategic Plan has identified some actions that will be taken at the branch level to address this issue. Additionally, we welcome suggestions from members on actions that can be taken to increase our numbers and to retain those that have joined.

There are as yet, no corporate members of MNS in Sarawak, but we are working to address this gap. At the request of the Kuching Branch committee, the MNS Secretariat sent letters of invitation to join MNS as a corporate member to the Borneo Highlands Resort and Cahya Mata Sarawak – both of whom we have collaborated with on events - but we have received no positive response to these as yet. We have also broached the subject of corporate membership with the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, and we are informed that this is being considered by its management.

Looking ahead

The MNS-Kuching has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1996, and we are poised to do our part to deliver the MNS vision and mission, and to contribute to achieving the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 - 2020.

The MNS-Kuching Strategic Plan 2009 – 2012 offers an opportunity for us to focus our efforts to ensure the efficient and effective use of our existing resources and strengths, and to use this to as a catalyst for further development.

The biggest challenge which lies ahead of us is to build sustainability into our operations, and a vital part of this is ensuring financial security, and securing a ‘home’ for the MNS-Kuching Branch, with the necessary manpower to manage our activities and programmes. Both of these have been identified as priorities in the Kuching Branch Strategic Plan 2009 - 2012.

I call on the members of MNS-Kuching Branch to give their full support and assistance to the incoming committee as they work to implement our new Strategic Plan.


“Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.”
David Thomas

I would like to take this opportunity to say a great big ‘thank all’ to the members of the Committee for their support and hard work this past year. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for me to work with such a committed, enthusiastic and dedicated group of people who share my love for nature, and my desire to do my part to ensure its conservation. All that we achieved, we achieved together!

I would also like to thank the Kuching Branch members who have volunteered their time and energy to assist with our work this past year and the years before. Your contribution is much appreciated, and gratefully acknowledged.

To those of you whom we have called on for advice and assistance on specific tasks and projects, thank you for saying ‘yes’ and for being there when we needed you.

To our partners and donors, thank you for your continuing support. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with you.

To the relevant staff of the MNS Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur who provided advice and guidance this past year, thank you very much.

Rebecca D’Cruz
26 June 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The MNS-Kuching Strategic Plan 2009-2012
1. The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is the oldest and largest nature conservation organisation in Malaysia. MNS was established in 1940 by a group of naturalists to record and exchange information on, and to promote awareness about the diverse and abundant natural heritage of Malaya.
2. Since its early days, the MNS and its members have undertaken nature conservation projects, programmes and campaigns with a strong focus on education and public awareness to mobilize Malaysians to do their part for the protection and wise management of our natural heritage. Today, the MNS is recognized as one of the premier nature conservation organizations in the country, and works closely with government and other partners to advance nature conservation at the policy, planning, and implementation levels throughout the country.
3. The MNS operates through state-level branches and a permanent Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur. There are two branches in Sarawak: the Kuching Branch and the Miri Branch, both of which were formally established in 1998. Programme planning and implementation at branch level is guided by a Branch Committee, comprising volunteer members of the branch. Branch Committee members are elected at the annual Branch AGM, which is usually held in July or August.
4. At the national-level MNS AGM in August 2008 members, representing the MNS branches nationwide, adopted the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020 to guide the implementation of the Society’s mission and to ensure that its actions are in line with existing government policies and plans, and with Malaysia’s international nature conservation-related commitments.
This Strategic Plan
This Plan has been prepared to cover three (3) years of the Branch’s work, from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2012.
The vision, mission and goals of this Plan are the same as that of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020. The strategies and actions in this Plan were formulated based on an assessment of the priorities and challenges for nature conservation in Sarawak, and on the strengths and opportunities of the MNS Kuching Branch (hereinafter referred to as ‘MNS-Kuching’) in terms of its existing programmes, members’ skills and expertise, and partnerships.
The order of presentation of the Strategies and Actions in this Plan are not indicative of their priority. It will be the task of each incoming Committee to assess and decide on priority actions for the year based on the opportunities, strengths and challenges which exist at the time they take office, and from Year 2 of implementation, after reviewing the progress to date.
It is important to note that not each and every issue that is or could be of relevance to nature conservation in Sarawak has been included in this Plan. This Plan deals with
1 August 2009
those issues that have been identified, through the consultative process, as being the immediate key issues that MNS-Kuching is in a position to address in the next three years.
For the purposes of this Plan, the geographical scope for site-based nature conservation projects undertaken by the MNS-Kuching is defined as the areas west of the Batang Lupar river.
This Plan is, and will remain an organic document, i.e. it will be reviewed periodically and revised accordingly in response to emerging challenges and opportunities.
The Purpose of this Plan
1. This Plan is intended to provide a framework for MNS-Kuching to define its direction in the next three years, to make decisions on allocating its financial and manpower resources, and to monitor and assess the impacts and outcomes of its actions.
2. It is also intended to inform key partners and other interested parties about the Branch’s priorities, and to provide the opportunity to enhance existing partnerships and to create new partnerships with like-minded organizations.
3. Finally, it is intended to communicate to the MNS Secretariat, MNS Council and other MNS branches how MNS-Kuching proposes to contribute to the implementation of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020. In doing so, MNS-Kuching hopes to be able to solicit support from, and promote greater exchange and sharing of information and experiences within the Society.
Modus Operandi for implementation and periodic review of this Plan
1. Following the adoption of this Plan, the Branch Executive Committee (Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer) will be responsible to prepare an annual Work Programme, based on an assessment of priorities for the year, and from Year 2 of implementation, following a review of the progress to date. The annual Work Programme will include a financial plan, indicators to enable periodic assessment of progress and achievements, and will identify the key implementer(s) for each strategy and/or action.
2. The annual Work Programme will be forwarded to the Branch Committee for approval. Once approved, the Branch Secretary will forward the annual Work Programme to all MNS-Kuching members.
3. The Branch Executive Committee will be responsible to provide a report on progress in implementing this Plan at each annual Branch AGM, and as part of the Branch report to each annual National AGM.
4. Towards the end of each year of implementation, i.e. on or before 30 June each year, the Branch Committee will undertake a review of the implementation of this Plan. The report from this review will be made available to all MNS-Kuching members. Changes proposed to the Strategies and/or Actions contained in this Plan, if any, will be tabled at the subsequent Branch AGM, for adoption.
1 August 2009
5. In the event that there are amendments to the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020, the Branch Committee will review these to determine if corresponding amendments are needed for the strategies and actions identified in this Plan.
6. Any changes to this and subsequent Plans are subject to final approval by the Branch Committee, and on approval, will be communicated to all MNS-Kuching members, the MNS Secretariat, MNS Council, other MNS branches, partners and other interested parties.
Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles of the Plan
Our Vision is for Malaysia’s natural heritage and rich biological diversity to be effectively protected, managed and conserved for the benefit and appreciation of all Malaysians.
“To promote the study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage.”
The above Mission may be represented briefly by the following motto:
“Know Nature, Value Nature and Act for Nature.”
Our Guiding Principles
In working towards the vision and mission above, the MNS-Kuching is guided by the following principles:
a) Member-driven. MNS shall always be a member-based and member-driven society, deriving its strength from a committed and active membership.
b) Independent. MNS is a self-governing and non-partisan organisation.
c) Non-profit. MNS is a properly constituted and registered society under Malaysian law, whose objective is to carry out its mission in the interests of its members without the intent of commercial or monetary profit.
d) Transparent. MNS shall maintain transparency and accountability in all its dealings with its members, as well as with its external supporters and partners such as donor agencies, sponsors, government agencies, and the public.
Our Approach
a) Knowledge-based and multi-disciplinary. MNS’s analysis of conservation problems and solutions is objective, multi-disciplinary and based on the best available scientific information and knowledge.
b) Communications, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA). MNS uses CEPA as an important tool to recruit, empower and partner with people to act for conservation while taking into account their social and economic realities. MNS endeavours to practice effective communications within its organization, and with partners and interested parties outside the organization.
1 August 2009
c) Capacity building. MNS organises or assists in training and other capacity building initiatives for those involved in, and responsible for the conservation and management of nature, including members, local communities and decision-makers.
d) Volunteerism. MNS shall always value the spirit of volunteerism and strongly encourage the participation of volunteers in its activities.
e) Best Practice. MNS seeks to demonstrate best practices in all its activities with the intention of being innovative, efficient and effective.
f) Results-driven. MNS stresses results by formulating strategic plans that assess policy/programme feasibility and include realistic short- and long-term goals and objectives.
g) Partnership. MNS subscribes to an inclusive spirit of partnership and willingness to work with all who support our nature conservation agenda, recognizing that sustainable conservation efforts are only possible through the involvement and support of all stakeholders including local communities and the general public.
h) Advocacy. MNS’s advocacy initiatives seek to communicate its findings and recommendations to decision-makers, at the national, state and local government levels, so as to influence or effect remedial nature conservation action.
i) Facilitation. MNS provides technical advice and acts in a facilitation role to encourage the active involvement of all stakeholders in discussing nature conservation-related challenges, and arriving at agreed solutions.
Goals, Strategies and Actions
Goal 1: To secure the conservation of environmentally sensitive areas, key habitats and species in Malaysia.
Strategy 1.1: Advocate for the effective management of the existing protected areas and the establishment of new protected areas, as a means to secure an integrated, comprehensive and representative Protected Area System in the state.
Action 1.1.1: Monitor the Kuching Wetlands National Park & Ramsar Site for management effectiveness and potential threats from development, and based on the findings, take actions, as appropriate, to advocate for the effective management of the area and the maintenance of its ecological integrity.
Action 1.1.2: Through the Bako-Buntal Bay Project act to promote awareness about the nature conservation values of the area, and advocate for its protection, effective management and recognition as a site of global conservation importance.
Action 1.1.3: Identify priority natural heritage sites, maintain a database of information on these areas, and take actions to advocate for their effective protection and management.
1 August 2009
Strategy 1.2: Advocate for the establishment of a centralised database of information on key habitats and species, and for this information to be disseminated, in the appropriate format, to aid development planning and raise civil society awareness about the natural heritage of Sarawak.
Action 1.2.1: Engage with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre to advocate for the establishment of a comprehensive and publicly-accessible database on key sites and species.
Strategy 1.3: Advocate for the effective management of provisions under the Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) which Malaysia is party to, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Wetlands and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as a means to advance positive change at the state and local levels.
Action 1.3.1: Engage with the Sarawak State Planning Unit to discuss opportunities to provide input to wetland Communications, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) activities, in line with the state government’s obligations under the (Ramsar) Convention on Wetlands, and consistent with MNS’s role as the government-appointed NGO CEPA Focal Point for the Ramsar Convention in Malaysia. Encourage the use of the Kuching Wetlands National Park Ramsar Site as a focal point for these actions.
Action 1.3.2: Engage with the relevant agencies responsible for the implementation of MEAs to discuss ways that MNS-Kuching can support their efforts, particularly in terms of input to workshops and discussions.
Action 1.3.3: Compile and communicate information about current global issues linked to MEAs (e.g. climate change, and the global water crisis) and their potential impact on the natural heritage of Sarawak.
Strategy 1.4: Identify threats to the survival of natural habitats and species and take appropriate actions to address these threats.
Action 1.4.1: Use the findings of the MNS-Kuching projects to communicate credible information on threats to endangered species and habitats to the relevant policy and decision-makers.
Action 1.4.2: Engage with the relevant stakeholders to identify actions which can be taken jointly to address threats to endangered species and habitats.
Goal 2: To empower current and future generations of Malaysians to act for the protection of our natural heritage.
Strategy 2.1: Work towards the establishment of a MNS Nature Education Centre (NEC) in Kuching to serve as a site for educational programmes and activities and as a ‘home’ for the MNS-Kuching; this centre to also act as a focal point for disseminating information about the natural heritage of Sarawak.
1 August 2009
Action 2.1.1: Conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of an MNS-Kuching NEC in the Kuching area. This will include identifying sources of funding (from the government and private sectors) to support the establishment and operation of the MNS-Kuching NEC, including funding to support the employment of full-time staff.
Action 2.1.2: Liaise with the Environmental Education Division of the MNS Secretariat to get advice and support for the feasibility study, and to draw on the experience and lessons learnt from the establishment and management of MNS NECs in West Malaysia.
Strategy 2.2: Enhance the existing partnership with the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) on their Kelab PALS programme as a way to increase the involvement of teachers and students in MNS-Kuching projects and activities.
Action 2.2.1: Discuss and agree with NREB a programme of action to engage more effectively with their Kelab PALS programme.
Strategy 2.3: Establish links with global conservation and environmental education networks and global initiatives to demonstrate new learning tools and approaches for formal and non-formal environmental education.
Action 2.3.1: Work with the Environmental Education Division and the Conservation Division at the MNS Secretariat to get more information on potential links to global and regional networks, and to access environmental educational resources (e.g. tools, programmes) which could be shared with our partners such as the NREB and Sarawak Forestry.
Strategy 2.4: Empower and mobilize the public through awareness raising and capacity building actions, and public campaigns to enable them to participate actively in the decision-making process for the management and conservation of nature and the environment.
Action 2.4.1: Build on the existing tree-planting programmes (such as the “Trees for Life” Community Project) as a public outreach tool for MNS-Kuching and to provide increased opportunities for the public to be involved in nature conservation activities.
Action 2.4.2: Explore the possibility of organizing multilingual radio talk shows on nature (in partnership with RTM-Kuching) to promote awareness about nature conservation issues.
Action 2.4.3: Continue to include a nature-based conservation education component in all MNS-Kuching activities (including site visits and nature trips) to increase member awareness about nature conservation issues, and mobilize support for our actions.
1 August 2009
Goal 3: To strengthen the institutional capacity of the Society towards achieving its mission and goals.
Strategy 3.1: Secure the financial resources required to enable MNS-Kuching to achieve the objectives of this Plan.
Action 3.1.1: Develop new and innovative means of raising funds, as necessary, to support the implementation of the strategies and actions identified in this Plan.
Strategy 3.2: Strengthen existing partnerships, and build new partnerships with like-minded organizations at the global, regional, national and local levels to magnify the impact of conservation initiatives and programmes.
Action 3.2.1: Focus on corporate partnerships as a means to get more organized groups to volunteer/participate in MNS-Kuching activities, and potentially, to secure funding to support the implementation of the actions identified in this Plan.
Action 3.2.2: Work with qualified Park Guides, through the ongoing park guiding training programme, to ensure that the information disseminated to national park visitors is scientifically-credible and helps educates visitors about nature conservation.
Strategy 3.3: Raise the image and profile of MNS to every segment of society so as to be recognized as a leading organization working to promote nature conservation.
Action 3.3.1: Establish an MNS-Kuching presence (posters, displays, etc.) at public places (e.g. national parks) as a way to increase awareness about our activities and programmes.
Action 3.3.2: Build a database of quality presentations on MNS and on key conservation issues to be presented to government agencies, organized groups and organizations as a way to ensure consistency in terms of the messages that we deliver.
Action 3.3.3: Enhance efforts to communicate our successes to a wide audience to increase recognition of our contribution to nature conservation efforts.
Goal 4: To grow and to effectively and efficiently mobilise membership resources towards achieving the Society’s mission and goals.
Strategy 4.1: Engage, maintain and expand the membership of MNS-Kuching through targeted membership drives, and through ongoing projects and programmes.
Action 4.1.1: Focus on actively engaging existing members in our activities and programmes, e.g. by regularly communicating information to them about our projects and programmes, and organizing “MNS Member Day” events.
1 August 2009
Action 4.1.2: Continue to organize high quality trips and events with appropriate nature interpretation components as a means to retain current members and expand membership.
Action 4.1.3: Continue to maintain a database on MNS-Kuching members, including information about each member’s skills, expertise and areas of interest.
Action 4.1.4: Develop an MNS-Kuching web site as a means to communicate effectively with our members, and to attract potential new members.
Strategy 4.2: Build the capacity of members to enable them to contribute effectively to our projects and programmes, and to ensure the sustainability of the Branch.
Action 4.2.1: Organize training workshops for members to enhance their skills in the nature conservation planning and management, including communications and advocacy.
Action 4.2.2: Continue to explore opportunities for MNS-Kuching members to be involved in workshops, seminars, and training and volunteer programmes organized by the MNS Secretariat or other MNS branches, or by institutions and organizations that work in nature conservation.
Action 4.2.3: Draw on the skills, expertise and interests of members to plan, develop and implement nature conservation projects and programmes.
Strategy 4.3: Promote and foster links between MNS-Kuching and the MNS Secretariat, and between MNS-Kuching and other MNS branches, to promote greater sharing of expertise, knowledge and experience.
Action 4.3.1: Explore opportunities for MNS-Kuching members to be involved in the nature conservation projects and events undertaken by MNS in other parts of the country.
Action 4.3.2: Explore opportunities for the MNS Secretariat staff and members from other MNS branches to be involved in MNS-Kuching’s conservation projects.
1 August 2009

Chairman's address

This year, the MNS-Kuching Branch celebrates its 13th year in Sarawak, and in 2010, MNS the national society, will celebrate its 70th year in Malaysia.

As an organization dedicated to nature conservation in Malaysia, MNS has many comparative advantages, foremost of which are:
• It is an independent, non-partisan entity;
• It is a membership-based organization, which draws support from all levels of society;
• It has a long history and track record in Malaysia, with many tangible results to show for it; and
• It has a clear mission, demonstrated through its actions and programmes.

In our 13-year journey in Sarawak, we have made use of these comparative advantages to introduce, develop and demonstrate innovative ideas and approaches to conservation and development challenges, such as through our “Trees for Life” Community Project with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, which offers an opportunity for the Kuching community to get involved in nature conservation efforts at the Sama Jaya Nature Reserve.

We have formed strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations to organize events to raise awareness about the wonders of Sarawak’s natural heritage, such as our annual Bird Race in Borneo Highlands.

Through the Bako-Buntal Bay project, we aim to serve as a bridge between Sarawak and the global nature conservation community

In some instances, we have broken new ground and led the way for others to follow; we were the first MNS branch in Malaysia to develop a branch-level Strategic Plan. Our “Trees for Life” and the Bako-Buntal Bay projects have offered new and innovative ways for people from all walks of life to get involved in nature conservation efforts.

It has been a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience for me to have had the opportunity to work with the committed, enthusiastic and dedicated bunch of people in the committee these past two years. I would also like to thank the members who have volunteered their time and energy to assist with our work this past year and the years before. To those of you whom we have called on for advice and assistance on specific tasks and projects, thank you for saying ‘yes’ and for being there when we needed you.

Margaret Mead said, and I quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.

Here at the Kuching Branch, we may not be many in terms of numbers, but by working together smartly and efficiently, we have been able to ensure that the branch continues to grow in the right direction. I truly believe that the Kuching Branch is today one of the best MNS branches in Malaysia for what we have been able to achieve.
I am confident that if we work together and continue to grow the way we have, we are on track to be the leading nature conservation organization in Sarawak. Not bad for a 13-year old!