#BEFFYL4S Young Leaders for Sustainability Workshop 6 Heart of Borneo International Conference

Our YL4S gang attended this year’s Heart of Borneo conference at the Magellan Sutera Harbour, immersing themselves in issues of forest conservation, capacity building and eco-tourism among many others. Seen here with our Young Leaders is Ms. Ivy Wong Abdullah, Senior Vice President of Environment at Yayasan Hasanah (4th from right).

The International Conference on the Heart of Borneo (HoB) was held from the 24th to the 25th of October 2017, from 08:00 to 17:00 daily at the Magallen Sutera, Sutera Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu. Apart from the two-day event, a post-conference day tour to Sulaman Lake, the Kinabalu Ecolinc project and Pelancongan Tagal, Kota Belud, was held on the 26th October 2017.

The Heart of Borneo (HoB) is a tri-country voluntary initiative which spans across Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia and covers about 22 million hectares of contiguous tropical forests. Since its inception in 2007, the three countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, are committed to conserve and sustainably manage the biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources in the HoB.

This year also marked its 10th year. The HoB initiative is now the epitome of Sabah’s exemplary achievements in the management and conservation of its old world tropical rainforests, with much effort and contribution from the Sabah Forestry Department. Under the HoB initiative, five major programmes are given due attention, namely:

  1. Creation of a network of protected areas that is ecologically connected;
  2. Sustainable management of natural resources;
  3. Trans-boundary management initiatives;
  4. Ecotourism development and
  5. Capacity building

These pillars of the HoB Initiative formed the five conference sessions.


The objective of attending the conference was to introduce YL4S to the transboundary effort between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia to enable conservation and sustainable development that would improve the welfare of people living in Borneo, while minimising deforestation, forest degradation and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This was the first conference for some of the participants, they felt it was an eye-opening experience for them to learn about the environmental issues that we currently facing in Borneo. They also enjoyed meeting new people such as scientists, researchers, and conservation professionals.


The Post-Conference Tour was attended by 5 YL4S participants. They first visited the Sulaman Lake Mangrove Forest where they learnt about the ecosystem of the area which is a habitat for various aquatic animals such as mud lobsters (Thalassina) and mud clams. Participants had the opportunity to plant mangroves in the area. They then headed to Kg. Lingkubang in Kota Belud which serves as an ecotourism place through the practice of the Tagal system, as a measure to sustainably manage river resources. Their final destination was Kg. Kiau Nuluh in Kota Belud where they witnessed pineapple processing by the women of that village into organic pineapple chutney and pineapple juice.

Participants said they learnt to appreciate the effort made by the people at each of the places they visited to preserve the environment and educate others on the importance of using the natural resources in a sustainable way. They also felt that we should applaud the role of women in contributing to sustainability, especially the effort of the Kg. Kiau women in generating an alternate means of income through natural products.

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