RIMBA Sarawak platform ventures into marine research with Curtin Malaysia

Professor Mienczakowski and Wong Ting Chung sign MoU, accompanied by Oswald and Professor Kuek.

Mienczakowski (second right) and Wong (second left) sign MoU, accompanied by Oswald (left) and Kuek .

KUCHING: Marine research efforts in Sarawak will be stepped-up as the project sites for RIMBA (Research for Intensified Management of Bio-rich Areas) Sarawak research platform are extended to include the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park (MSCRNP).

A memorandum of understanding to enable this was signed between Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) today.

Curtin joins the Smithsonian Institution, Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh, Wildlife Conservation Society and the NUS Lee Kong Chian Museum of Natural History by contributing its expertise in marine sciences and paleoenvironmental studies.

On hand at the signing ceremony were SFC’s Chief Executive Officer Wong Ting Chung and Deputy General Manager Oswald Braken Tisen, Curtin Malaysia’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski, and Professor Clem Kuek, Director of the Curtin Malaysia Research Institute (CMRI).

MSCRNP is the fifth RIMBA Sarawak project site announced. Nanga Segerak and Nanga Bloh in Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Nanga Delok in Batang Ai National Park and Ulu Sebuyau National Park were announced as the initial project sites during the launch of the project on 20 August 2015 by the late Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Haji Adenan Haji Satem, the then Chief Minister of Sarawak.

Mienczakowski stated that Curtin has steadily grown its involvement in the biodiversity in its region in the north of Sarawak with large investments in research in the Baram Catchment and the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park.

He explained that in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park, the Curtin Malaysia Research Institute funds researchers on various projects which will provide data for research-informed conservation of that bio-rich area where the coral and fish diversity match those in the Coral Triangle.

Wong, meanwhile, indicated that the research proposed by Curtin is exactly what is needed to study and document the plethora of biodiversity components of our national parks.

“It is hoped that the research findings will in due course help us to formulate management plans for the sustainability of the national parks concerned, starting with Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park,” he said.

Kuek revealed that projects in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park include studies on the sustainability of park sizing via quantitative surveys of fish and coral populations, the effect of sedimentation from the Baram River of coral development, and paleogeochemistry to reconstruct ancient climate regimes to place offshore Miri as another location in the world where the history of climate change can be referenced.

He added that studies are being planned for the passive acoustic surveillance of whales which transit northern Sarawak waters and the tracking of sediments from the Baram River to the Coral Reefs National Park. In the Mulu Caves, Curtin is developing a project to elucidate the nature of ancient life forms and their environment through DNA trapped in mineral depositions (paleoenvironmentology).

The information from these studies places Sarawak on the international map for world-leading research, and it benefits better management/conservation of bio-rich resources.

Kuek said an example was understanding how sedimentation from the Baram River has modulated the development of corals in the Coral Reefs National Park which tells us that any man-made changes in both the flow and composition of the outflow from the river should be made with caution and with an understanding of the effects on our biological resources many kilometres away out to sea.

Watch the video on the Curtin research at the MSCRNP here:

For more information on Curtin Malaysia, visit its website (www.curtin.edu.my), its Facebook page (CurtinMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinmalaysia), Google+ page (Curtin Malaysia) or Instagram (curtinmalaysia).

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