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Launching Of Ethno-Forestry Study And Workshop On Accessing And Commercialising Biodiversity

29 August, 2012 – The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah, YB Datuk Masidi Manjun, launched the Ethno-Forestry Study and Workshop on Accessing and Commercializing Biodiversity.  In his speech, read by the Deputy Minister, YB Datuk Ellron Angin, YB Datuk Masidi said that the study is timely as this knowledge is not well documented and it stands in danger of being lost because its custodians are passing away, as well as due to various human related activities like deforestation, unsustainable harvesting of forest products as well as changes in government policy, especially land-use.

On the issue of access to biodiversity and benefit sharing, YB Datuk Masidi said that the advancement of science and technology has led to increased interest

in appropriating indigenous knowledge for scientific and commercial purposes. Some research and pharmaceutical companies are patenting, or claiming ownership of traditional medicinal plants, even though indigenous peoples have used such plants for generations. Indigenous peoples’ traditional ownership of such knowledge are not given due recognition, and as such indigenous peoples are deprived of their fair share in the economic, medical or social benefits that accrue from the use of their traditional knowledge or practices.  He hoped that the Workshop will discuss these issues.  At the Event, Yayasan Sabah was represented by Puan Hjh. Rosmawati Hj. Lasuki, J.P., Senior Group Manager, Human Resource & Corporate Services (Group), while PETRONAS was represented by Mr. Joseph Podtung, General Manager, Sabah/Labuan Regional Office.


A total of 81 participants from various government departments and agencies, institutions, private companies, NGOs, as well as interested individuals participated in the Workshop, which was chaired by YBhg. Prof. Dr. Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Director of the Institute of Tropical and Biodiversity Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).  Talks during the Workshop are as the following:


  • Rules/Regulations related to Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Practices by Dr. Abd. Fattah Amir, Director, Sabah Biodiversity Centre/Secretary Sabah Biodiversity Council
  • ABS: From International Law to Local Realities by Harry Jonas, International Environmental Lawyer
  • Documenting traditional ecological knowledge: Lessons from the Field by Dr. Agnes Agama, Regional Coordinator for the Global Diversity Foundation’s (GDF) Programme in Sabah
  • Documentation of Traditional Knowledge on the Use of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants by Dr. Nik Musaadah Mustafa, Senior Researcher, Natural Products Division, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)
  • Commercialization of Biodiversity by Dr. Stuart Soo, Furley Bioextracts Sdn Bhd, KL
  • Traditional Knowledge Derived Lead Pharmaceuticals by Dr. Charles Vairappan (University of Malaysia Sabah)
  • Approaches in Natural Product Research by Dr. Mashita Mohd. Yusoff, Dean, Faculty of Science & Industrial Technology, University of Malaysia Pahang
  • Plant Diversity: Its Potentital Use by the Cosmeceutical, Nutraceutical and Pharma Industries by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Uma Devi a/p M. Palanisamy, Biochemistry, Monash University, Sunway


The Ethno-Forestry Study is one of the flagship programme under the YS-PETRONAS Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership, and is a long-term project leading towards the positioning of Imbak Canyon as the centre of learning for the indigenous community in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and for gene bank conservation and the exploration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological potentials.

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