EARTH OBSERVATION / GIS





Maliau Basin or also Maliau Basin Conservation Area, is a region in Sabah, Malaysia, which represents a geological catchment surrounding the Maliau River. Located around the center of Sabah in the Sandakan Division, it was designated as a conservation area by the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah) in 1981. Later in 1997 the Sabah State Assembly gazetted the Basin as a Protection Forest Reserve (Class I) with a total area of 588 square kilometres. The region also features Mount Lotung (1667 metres), Maliau Falls, and Lake Linumunsut. Efforts are underway (SaBC 2012) to nominate the area as a World Heritage Site .

In connection with a large management project a large survey of the area was initiated in 1999 by DANCED in co-operation with Sabah Foundation. For basic approximation of biological values we produced a botanical forest map by the use of Landsat data. The classification contained all forest formations and zones - with record high 12 botanical classes including single species classes.


A Bio and Geo GIS were established for gathering information on habitats / biodiversity and hydrology. The knowlegde of many species habitats were very limited, thus, basic information on rare species preferences to water, botany, altitude etc. were used for producing potential habitat maps.


A predicted general biodiversity map was produced, modeled from field-studies, Digital Elevation Models, digital botanical map, distance to water courses and established knowledge on species habitat preference. The predicted biodiversity map showed that the highest biodiversity was linked to the remaining lowland rainforest and that the neighboring area Imbak Canyon also indicated high biodiversity - which later raised the conservation interest of that area.


The image data further services many other tasks for establishment of the management plan - such as mapping logging tracks to the conservation area, overview of remaining forest in the area, delineation of management zones, input data for hydrological modeling, tracing illegal forest cutting, and as input for a biological GIS for analyzing habitats of rear species. The project further encompassed a capacity building component in GIS and Remote Sensing for management trainees and PhD students.


The results are not only interesting in terms of producing background information for biodiversity management plans, but has prospects for REDD/REDD+ as it splits up the vegetation into classes which are commonly occurring in the mountain rich SE Asia - which eventually have a variation of biomass of 20-500 m3/ha have  


Prins (2002) Technical Assistance Report No. 21, Mapping and GIS, April 2002, Management of Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia, Yaysan Sabah/Danced.

PRINS, E and WEBB, C (2003) Botanical mapping of rain forest in Borneo by the use of Landsat TM. (draft): Int. J. of Remote Sensing

Client: DANCED 1999-2002, Maliau Project Link




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