Sabah collaborates with international team on 3-D mapping for forest management

Malaysia’s Sabah Forestry Department has kicked off a mapping campaign to gather data that will feed into making the best decisions for land use and management of the state’s biodiversity. Using high resolution 3D mapping tools by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), Sabah’s 7.4 million hectare forests, carbon stocks and biodiversity patterns can be mapped out. 

This mapping process will provide government decision makers, scientists and conservationists an understanding on how past environmental management decisions have impacted the land and biodiversity, and how current and future decisions can make their status better. The maps will also set a baseline against which land and biodiversity management can be assessed in the coming years.

Datuk Sam Mannan, director of Forestry, said the maps derived from this campaign will be a useful tool for making sound decisions in relation to land-use planning. By 2025, the State is expected to increase its current 24% of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) to 30%, and to achieve 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) for all palm oil growers in Sabah. 

CAO director Dr Gregory P. Asner said, “Our goal is to provide highly accurate and actionable maps to all parties interested in advancing Sabah’s environmental conservation, management and resource policy.”

The final maps are expected to be ready by the end of the year and will be shared with the relevant organisations in a transparent and open-access approach.

The international team involved in Sabah forests’ 3D mapping exercise/ Photo: Sabah Forestry Department