Friday, February 26, 2010

This Weekend's Activities in Miri

Malaysian Plover at Pulau Bawai from AWC 2009.

Saturday, 27-28th February AWC Pulau Bawai Overnite

Pulau Bawai is uninhabited (not by humans anyway) save for a couple of fishermen stopping by to mend their nets or catch fish. Vegetation on the islands is mainly causarina and mangrove. The island being at the estuary of Batang Baram enjoys saltwater on the westside (South China Sea) and freshwater on the eastside (Batang Baram).

There is plenty of accumulated debris in the form of logs, tree roots and tree trunks so we've got plenty of fuel for the campfire. You may get the odd Bujang Senang coming up to shore in the wee hours of the nite to hang out. In general, the island is fairly clean and presentable by Kuala Baram standards.

Meet : Shell Office Lobby 1500 hrs

We will proceed to meet with our boatman to Bawai at the old Kuala Baram jetty before pushing off at 1600hrs.

Expected activities:
1700 hrs Set up Camp and start a fire
1800 hrs Walkabout the sandbar to look for signs of life (birds, animals etc)
2000 hrs Wash-up, prepare dinner, dinner
2200 hrs Walkabout the sandbar to look for signs of life
2400 hrs Bedtime
0600 hrs Wake-up call and Walkabout the sandbar to look for signs of life
0800 hrs Breakfast
0900 hrs Pack-up
1000 hrs Get ready for pick-up

Optional activity : Fishing

27 Sat Lowest tide 0700hrs at 0.18m ; Highest tide 2200hrs at 2.17m
28 Sun Lowest tide 0700hrs at 0.23m; Highest tide 2300hrs at 2.12m

Last year we got as close as 3m to a very friendly Malaysian Plover during our nitewalks. Other equally interesting birds recorded were : White-bellied Sea Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Greater and Lesser Sandplover, and Gull-billed Tern. A large estuarine crocodile made an appearance at the shoreline sometime past midnite when everyone was asleep, we plan to stake it out this weekend, hopefully with the full moon we can see the fella clearly.

Costs :
We will share cost of boat, food and supplies.

What to bring :
A large hat, tent (in case it rains) or you can opt to sleep under the stars, binos, powerful torchlight, insect repellant, plenty of drinking water, fishing gear and bait if you intend to fish, a change of clothing, your favorite midnite snack, and coffee.

Please contact us via email of sms if you are interested to participate. Nazeri 0168542212 or Musa 0168746127.

Saturday, 27th February Lambir Hill Trek

After the long break over CNY surely it wont be easy for us to attempt too challenging a trek. So this weekend we'll take a breather a breather and do a shorter walk of either the Loop or going up the trail to Bukit Pantu again.

Meet : 0700 hrs Taman Awam or 0730 hrs Lambir Hills Park HQ

This will be great training opportunity for our Mt Kinabalu climb in May. With only 10 weeks left for Kinabalu, we have planned several long walks for our upcoming weekend treks in the effort to build up strengths and stamina required for an enjoyable execution of the climb up Mt Kinabalu.

If you are unable to come for the weekly hill walking, please take time to train up your leg muscles by doing sets of lunges and squats, climbing up and down stairs, etc. To increase the overall stamina / fitness, you should also incorporate some other forms of aerobic or cardio workout in your exercise regime.

Please contact Sara Wong directly to participate in this trek.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Palm Oil Plantations are now "Forests"!

Vast sections of our very own Miri landscape (much of Sarawak for that matter) that could in a couple of years time be labelled "forest"! Some already are.

Hiding monoculture oil palm plantations under a business-friendly “forest” definition

An article published on the website (1) informs that:

“a draft commission communication offering guidance to EU member states on the use of biofuels has classified palm oil plantations - the source of one of the most destructive forms of biofuels - as "forests." Essentially, the document argues that because palm oil plantations are tall enough and shady enough, they count as forests.”

The article quotes the document:

"Continuously forested areas are defined as areas where trees have reached, or can reach, at least heights of five metres, making up a crown cover of more than 30 percent." "They would normally include forest, forest plantations and other tree plantations such as palm oil." "This means, for example, that a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the [sustainability criteria] .”

The above is the successful outcome of the intense lobbying campaign on the EU Commission carried out by Malaysian producers – through GPlus, the international lobbying outfit hired by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

At the same time, it serves well the purposes of the EU, that last year passed the EU Renewable Energy Directive, which requires EU member states to source 10 per cent of transport fuels from renewable sources, much of which will certainly come from monoculture oil palm plantations. Defining those plantations as “forests” will assist in greenwashing their social and environmental impacts.

Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil has swiftly seized the opportunity for defining its destructive oil palm plantations as “forests”. On 16 February, the Jakarta Post informed that “the Forestry Ministry is drafting a decree to include oil palm plantations in the forest sector to comply with international standards in mitigating climate change.”

The head of research and development at the ministry, Tachrir Fathoni, said that “by definition, oil palm plantations will be defined as forest”, arguing that “many countries such as Malaysia, the world’s second biggest palm oil producer after Indonesia, had included oil palm plantations in its forest sector.”

Although defining industrial monocultures of an alien species as “forest” is scientifically absurd, it makes much economic sense, as Tachrir Fathoni explains: “By doing so, Malaysia can reap financial incentives from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of carbon trade.” He said that the UN only categorized trees with a certain height as forest trees, without identifying their species and that this move “is to anticipate the implementation of the REDD scheme”.

Under REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) countries with extensive “forest cover” can receive financial benefits by stopping deforestation. Which means that Indonesia will be financially rewarded for destroying its tropical forests as long as they substitute them with oil palm “forests”!

All this absurd situation serves at least to strengthen the position of the many organizations that have for years been challenging the FAO’s definition of forest, that includes plantations as such. International processes such as UNFCCC have uncritically accepted the FAO definition, thus leading to absurd situations such as the one now being exposed.

At the same time, we hope that the leaked document will lead to organized opposition in Europe against such definition by the EU, which if adopted will help to accelerate forest destruction, not only in Indonesia and Malaysia, but throughout the entire South.

Oil palm plantations are not forests!

Original article:

WRM International Secretariat
Maldonado 1858 - 11200 Montevideo - Uruguay
Tel: 598 2 413 2989 / fax: 598 2 410 0985

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dipterocarp Mast Fruiting in Lambir Hills

Trees . . . they are everywhere in Lambir Hills National Park (Lambir Park), not only are they in great number buts also in species count.

Let’s see . . . everybody knows there is a 52-hectare research plot somewhere within the Park. Well, in that small plot some scientists decided to make a census count and they found a staggering 1,173 tree species in 286 genera and 81 tree families! Talk about diversity, Lambir definitely tops the list as the richest forest in Malaysia!

Two major types of forest are found in Lambir Park, the mixed dipterocarp forest and the kerangas forest. Kerangas forest is mainly found near the north-eastern part of the Park around Bukit Lambir peaks, while the majority of forest in other parts of Lambir is covered by mixed dipterocarp forest.

For the past few months starting October 2009, something wonderful has been taking place in the mixed dipterocarp forest of Lambir Park: the dipterocarp trees have been producing and releasing enormous amounts of winged fruits onto the forest floor. This special event is called dipterocarp mast-fruiting.

A carpet of dipterocarp flowers on the trails.

During this period many species of dipterocarps come into flower almost simultaneously, followed by mast-fruiting for a period of several months. Unlike other tree families, dipterocarp mast-fruiting only occurs at irregular intervals of anything between 2 – 10 years, a phenomenon that is very unique to dipterocarp forests of South-East Asia.

The different types of winged fruit found on the forest floor of Lambir.

The only spot not covered by the winged fruits is pool.

A few hypotheses have been proposed to explain this distinctive feature of dipterocarp forests, but the most widely accepted must be the predator-satiation theory which suggests that through synchronization of fruiting at around the same time by many dipterocarp species at irregular intervals of several years, it not only prevents the build-up of seed predator population, the heavy fruiting is also a means of defense to prevent seed predators from wiping out the whole crop of seeds, thus ensuring survival of some of the seeds to germinate and grow into seedlings.

A small group of MNS Miri Branch hikers who regularly visited the Park during weekends over the past four months saw first hand the chronological sequence of mass flowering and mast fruiting of several dipterocarp species along the trails they regularly walked.

Peter admiring the young seedlings taing their rightful places on the forest floor.

February month appears to be the height of the dipterocarp mast-fruiting, as the trails are literally covered with thousands of fallen dipterocarp winged fruits, and at some places it is so dense that walking on them makes quite treacherous as it is really slippery underfoot especially on a descend. It is also observed that many of the other plant species were busily producing bountiful fruits and seeds along side with dipterocarp trees. The forest has certainly never been seen so busy with all these reproductive activities!

Come and visit Lambir Hills National Park now and see for yourselves this special miracle before it is all over. You may not easily see it again in the next few years!

Write-up and photographs by Sara Wong.

Hazebroek, H. P., and Abang Morshidi, A. K. 2006. National Parks of Sarawak. Sabah: Natural History Publications (Borneo).

Sakai, S. 2002. General Flowering in Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forests of South-east Asia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 75(2): 233-247.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Weekends Activities in Miri

Getting properly kitted up for the boatride around Loagan Bunut back in 2009 AWC.

Saturday-Sunday, 20-21st February AWC Loagan Bunut National Park

Meet : Gloria Hotel, Miri
Time : 0615 hrs
Duration : 2D/1N

We are off to Loagan Bunut for AWC this weekend, we are leaving with 2x4WD vehicles from Gloria Hotel. We'll start very early from Miri with a short break in Beluru to absorb some local color and rejuvenate some body parts most vulnerable to bumpy road conditions. We'll quickly pass through Lapok to register and check in at Loagan Bunut National Park, eta 0900hrs.

Accomodation will be in simple dormitory rooms at $15/person at the Park. Food will at the canteen or whatever we can scrape together for a barbecue or simple cookout, shared costs.

There'll be one boatride to birdwatch along the lakeshores up to Sg Teru on the evening of the 1st day and another very early morning on the 2nd day, again shared costs. There'll be an optional crocodile watching cruise at midnite to Sg Teru for the bravehearted few. We'll be birdwatching around the parkgrounds and nearby trails on both days outside of the planned boatride times.

4WD vehicle is recommended for travel to LBNP due to several spots of rough road conditions between Beluru and Lapok. We'll start our journey back to Miri just after lunchtime Sunday afternoon.

Interested? We have only one seat left on the 4wD, unless you are driving your own car. Please email us at

Saturday, 20th February Lambir Hills Trek to Dinding Waterfall

Meet : Taman Awan Carpark 0800 hrs or
Lambir Hills NP HQ 0830 hrs

This weekend we are attempting the 4.8km trek to Dinding Waterfall. Expect to trek for approximately 3 hours to reach the intended destination, or less if you run! The surrounding terrain is undulating and there will be 2 small stream crossings.

Please bring enough drinking water, energy snacks, poncho in case it rains, and swimming gear if you want to take a cool refreshing dip at the waterfall upon arrival. We expect to be back at the Park HQ roundabouts 4pm.

Please email Sara directly.

Friday, February 12, 2010

This Weekend's Activities in Miri

A rest stop along a stream not far from the sanctuary office.

Saturday, 13th February

AWC around Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary

Meet : Taman Awam Miri OR SK Kpg Masjid (in Kpg Tengah, Bekenu)
Time : 0615 hrs OR 0645 hrs
Duration : 0700-1100 hrs

We are checking out what's there around Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary. The route we are following will be parallel to Sg Sibuti (on the left), flanked by water canals on the right as we head towards the Sanctuary office. This is our first proper visit to the area, a minor recce was conducted here last December.

4WD Recommended for travel between Kpg Tengah to Sanctuary. A tough sedan would do too actually, though the road is not surfaced, it's laterite mixed fine gravel double-track.

Google map of the general area.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February Updates, News and Events

Waders on a stick at Sundar.

Dear Members,

Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger to all! Wishing you all a more Prosperous and Joyous year.
Members, it's been highlighted recently that we have been a wee bit "bird-centric" the past year or so. Can't help it if some of us are nuts about birds and/or fireflies.Perhaps there are other members out there who are willing to share their passion about nature and nature related activities with the rest of us. Send us a note.

We are currently soliciting input and identifying closet volunteers to offer a more varied fare to members and in general the Miri community. This is to sustain our effort to offer the best and most titillating (sic) activities to members aside from birds ("Birds! birds! birds!" in the words of an ex-Shell MD) and fireflies.

We hereby implore those with brilliant ideas and time to spare to please contact us urgently, we'd love to hear from you! Who knows, maybe you can help us draw out more members from the proverbial closet of natural wonders.

1. Asian Waterbird Census 2010
Please checkout the reports and pictures at :

a) Go-Kart Lakes, 9-10th January
Completed. We ticked a Black-capped Kingfisher here as well as Oriental Darter. Plenty of still unexplored areas, fast being developed into housing estates, roadbuilding and oil palm plantations.

b) Curtin Lakes, 16-17th January
Completed. We ticked a juvvy Grey-headed Fish Eagle. With the drying up of one of our duck lakes, we explored another lake along the main road from E-mart to KBaram, a well hidden site which holds some promise.

c) Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms, 23-24th January
Completed. We ticked a one legged Whimbrel amongst the other regulars. Confirmed roosting site for waders and egrets we see distributed in Kuala Baram.

d) Kuala Baram, 30-31st January
Completed. We ticked a pair of Eastern Marsh Harrier this year at the new Shin Yang Dump.

e) Sundar, Lawas, 5-7th February
Completed. We ticked two Lesser Adjutant, numerous Eastern Curlew this year! We also managed to do a quick assessment of fireflies along Sg Punang. Depending on availability of funding, Kpg Awat-awat could be on our list for AWC next year too. There's Great-billed Heron in those mangroves somewhere. Mangoves are fast being replaced by oil palm plantation and bakau-wood harvesting for charcoal.

2. Committee Meeting, 19th January
Firmed up plans and action items for WMBD 2010, KK Do 14th May, MNS Roadshow 19th June as part of 70th Anniversary celebration. Discussed other upcoming events.

World Migratory Bird Day 08th May "Save Migratory Birds in Crises - All Species Count" to be held at Pustaka Miri. Field excursion by bus to Kuala Baram 09th May from Pustaka Miri.

KK Do with MNS Sabah 14-16th May. Mt Kinabalu Climb 14-16th May "MNS 70th Anniversary Banner at the Summit"; Birdwatching with schoolchildren and members at Kinabalu Park 14-15th May with famed Sabah birdguides;Astronomy with schoolchildren and members 15-16th May near Kundasang.

MNS Roadshow 19th June at Pustaka Miri. Short talks and slideshow on "Fossils of Miri", "Dolphins of Sarawak" and "Reefs of Miri", "MNS Constitution" as well as branch activities photo exhibition. Field excursion 20th June by bus to Tusan cliffs to check out a unique crab fossil, Mursa bekenuensis and other gastropods, bus leaves from Pustaka Miri.

Book time on your calendar now.

3. Meeting with SFC at Miri Regional Office, 22nd January
Discussed future involvement of SFC wrt AWC activities for 2010-2012. Potential collaborative proposal for AWC to SFC upper management.

1. Asian Waterbird Census 2010
a) Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary, 13th February
Birdwatching at the Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary, if the powers that be willed it, we will be doing this with 30 rural schoolchildren and their teachers. Otherwise it'll be just us birdwatchers and interested teachers and members.Miri - Kpg Tengah, surfaced road. Kpg Tengah-SWS, unsurfaced red laterite and gravel road.

Meeting point : Taman Awam or SK Kpg Masjid
Time : 0615 hrs or 0645 hrs

b) Loagan Bunut, 20-21st February
Musa and Steve leading. An overnite trip to the NP. We'll take boatrides to survey the lakes for birds, to see if we've got any Oriental Darter and Grey-headed Fish Eagle to tick. Limited space due to tough 4WD road conditions. Accomodation is at the LBNP dormitories at $10/person, shared food cost.

c) Pulau Bawai, 27th February
Musa leading. Depending on the tides and number of participants, we maybe camping on the island to closely observe migrating waders on their way North.

2. "Introduction to MNS" and discussion on "Wildlife In Rural Sarawak" at Curtin, 11th March
Nazeri presenting MNS to Curtin PR students, discussing issues related to wildlife consumption and trade in rural Sarawak. Curtin members are invited to make the session more lively.

3. NREB Workshop on SCORE, 11th March in Bintulu
MNS Miri has been allocated one seat for this one day event organised by NREB to discuss a few pertinent points related to Social Environmental Impact Assessment, relocations, dams and affected rural community. Members who are interested to attend to please contact Nazeri. This is a fully sponsored trip.

4. Raptor Watch, 13-14th March
This is the 11th year and promises more activities for all ages in addition to the spectacle of watching tens of thousands of raptors migrate across the Malacca Straits to Sumatra. We counted 38,000 raptors last year. Nazeri is attending.

Please check

Organisers are seeking volunteers to help with Raptor Count from 20th Feb to 04th April. Please refer to for details.

4. [Tentative] Batek Workshop with Malek Adenan, 20th March
A repeat of a half day program making batek prints with Malek Adenan, our resident batek artist and member. Venue and exact timing to be confirmed.

5. [Tentative] Long Weekend at a Longhouse along Batang Baram
One of our member has extended to members of MNS Miri a quiet weekend longhouse experience. Expressions of interest is duly sought from members who'd like to spend a couple days relaxing with a longhouse community by the riverside, the Tuai Rumah will be our host. Since the dates have not yet been set, members can specify "best" dates based on their preferences. No responses received so far.

1. A big THANK YOU to members who've taken the time to renew their membership.

Those who havent, please do so at your earliest convenience. Please revert to this email if you require assistance or more information on how to renew your membership painlessly and hassle free.

You can now bank in to either Maybank (Account No: 012138304679) or HSBC (Account No: 305194920108) beneficiary name "Malaysian Nature Society".

Membership of the following member expired 31st Dec:
Samantha Kwan-reminded

Membership of the following members expired 31st Jan:
Azeeza Bujang-reminded
Jeit Law-reminded
Rebecca Pek-reminded
Rohaya Amat Dollah-reminded

We have a whopping 22 branch memberships expiring 28th February:
Amer Matridi Abu Mansur Matridi
Anne Malissa King
Chia Lee Ming, Josephine
Dominique Dodge - Wan
Elisabet Bes
Fazira Azlina Mohd Rofli
Gunaseelan N. Cumurasamy
Jacabus D C van der Toorn
Kamal Abdullah
Kiew Siew Eng (no email)
Lee Bor Seng
Len Siew Yee
Lim Geok Hoon (no email)
Mas Nur Afiqah Rabani
Mohammad Hatta Rizal Mansor
Nurashikin Ikhwan
Puteri Shariza Megat Khalid
Tan Kok Khian

Tisha-Lin Sinnathamboo
Wong Chung
Wouter Rensink
Zanti Noviana

Please take time to renew your membership, we need your support. Members in Curtin can contact Sara for renewals.

Expired membership from Oct, Nov have been removed from this mailing list as of this update.

2. Keep updated with Branch activities via our blog and Facebook( and Facebook (search for "MNS Miri").

We need writers and pictures for our blogs, Pencinta Alam, Malaysian Naturalists ... contributors welcomed.If you've articles, write-ups and pictures to share on our blog, please email

3. Meetings in the next couple of months
13th Mar: MNS Bird Conservation Council Meeting at Raptor Watch, Nazeri attending
17th Apr: MNS Council Meeting in KL

If you have any items that needed raising up at these meetings, please email us.

Please email any comments, suggestions to

Thank you and kindest regards,
Nazeri Abghani
on behalf of MNS Miri Branch Commt

Monday, February 1, 2010


As MNS prepares for its 70th year of nature conservation and its tireless efforts to protect and study our natural heritage, we have a series of special events lined up for 2010 which will showcase our work and rich natural heritage dating back to 1940.

The 70th year list of exciting events will culminate in an International Conference on October 8th & 9th, 2010 and the ROYAL DINNER to be held in Kuala Lumpur on October 10th, 2010.

YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia has been invited to open and present the policy address at the International Conference entitled “Challenges & Solutions for Tropical Biodiversity”. Special keynote speakers, international personalities and local experts have been identified and invited to present at this special Conference that aims on celebrating Malaysia’s Biodiversity and to discuss challenges faced for the past 70 years with an emphasis on urgent solutions for the next 30 years.

The Royal event will also see the first special series of MNS Awards being presented to corporates with good environmental track record or policies that will result in eco change in the next 30 years.

MNS will also unveil its proposed new logo. The dinner will include a presentation of MNS’ journey for the past seventy years and acknowledgement will be accorded to members and branches who have played a vital role in driving MNS to where it is today, the leading environmental NGO of this nation.

Funds raised will be channeled towards MNS’s GREENaid fund that will help promote and fund various conservation activities like ‘Save Belum-Temengor Campaign’, ‘Tiger Project’, educational programmes for our over 300 schools around the country, capacity build MNS to actively engage in urgent environmental issues and for MNS to be self sustaining.

Further information can be obtained at

In the tradition of financial responsibility & accountability, our audited financial statements will be made available to all members and presented at our Annual General Meetings, copies of which will be made to each contributor of the event.

Besides the direct donations (any amount), tables (x10persons) may be purchased for RM10,000.00 each. Due to limited tables available, we would appreciate your early bookings and support.

PLATINUM DONORS – RM 1,000,000.00
(Limited to 2 Platinum Donors and by invitation only)

· Platinum Donors will be acknowledged as Co-Sponsors of the Conference
· Branding in all media and collaterals

· prominent display of company logo on backdrops
· 4 complimentary Dinner Tables
· Invitation to the Pre-dinner Reception to greet the Guests of Honour
· Featured in press releases, website, branding, logo on all publicity materials and full page acknowledgement in souvenir book

· Acknowledged in 2000 copies of the MNS Coffee Table Book as Co-Sponsor

GOLD DONORS – RM 500,000.00
(Limited to 4 Gold Donors only)

· Gold Donors will be acknowledged as Co-Sponsors of the Conference
· Branding in all media and collaterals

· Prominent display of company logo on backdrops
· 3 complimentary Dinner Tables
· Invitations to the Pre-dinner Reception with the Guests of Honour
· Featured in press releases, website, branding, logo on all publicity materials and full page acknowledgement in souvenir book

· Acknowledged in 2000 copies of the MNS Coffee Table Book as Partner

SILVER DONORS – RM 250,000.00
(Limited to 8 Silver Donors only)

· Silver Donors will be acknowledged as Co-Sponsors of the Conference
· Branding in all media and collaterals

· Prominent display of company logo on backdrops
· 2 complimentary Dinner Tables
· Invitations to the Pre-dinner Reception with the Guests of Honour
· Website, branding and logo on all publicity materials, press releases and full page acknowledgement in souvenir book

· Acknowledged in 2000 copies of the MNS Coffee Table Book


· 1 complimentary Dinner Table· Website, branding and prominent single line to quarter page acknowledgement in souvenir book.

· Acknowledged in 2000 copies of the MNS Coffee Table Book


· Table Investment is at RM10,000 per table

NOTE: All donations will be acknowledged in the dinner souvenir book and are tax deductible.

For more information, event details on how to sign-up as donors, please contact Andrew Sebastian, Head of Communications, Malaysian Nature Society or call 03-2287 9422.