Flashback 2016: Earthwatch Borneo Expedition

Earthwatch.UK is an institute/ organisation that was, is and will always be close to my heart. One of the last programs in Borneo was in the year 2016, the last of being the Field Team leader and the last team of the season. It is indeed very sad as it sounds, however I do hope that such programs will continue in near future.

While browsing on line, I stumbled upon an article written by Bertie Thomas and George Strainge, the young, talented, ambitious, adventures, joyful and energetic volunteers for that season. The group made a good ‘team’. Herewith sharing their write up from her experience:

“Over the summer holidays, I went on a two week expedition to Sabah, Borneo, where I conducted research about the effect of climate change on the rainforest. The trip was organized by an institute in Oxford called Earthwatch and I was part of a team of 8 other like-minded sixth formers. Whilst in Borneo, we would be assisting scientists like Dr. Kogila Vani Annammala and Professor Rory Walsh (Professor of Geography at the University of Swansea) with their own research which focuses on erosion rates and sediment fingerprinting.

Whilst out in the field I learnt some very valuable fieldwork skills that I look forward to practising in the future but from the trip I also gained the satisfaction that I knew we were collecting vital data that will help us have a better understanding of the rainforest.

A typical day would involve us trekking into the rainforest and finding a site where we would conduct our research. To help us find these sites, we had research assistants who would trek into the rainforest with us, carrying equipment and using their expertise of the jungle to help us in the field. If we were doing Professor Walsh’s research then we would be measuring tree

diameters along a transect to find the density and size of trees in a certain area, and if we were doing Dr. Annammala’s research then we would be digging soil samples, or using erosion bridges and a laser to assess how much soil erosion had happened in a specific area. The data we collected would then be compiled and it would contribute to either of the individual’s own research.

Our camp here was very basic but it was amazing because it gave a real experience of being in the jungle. There were no walls or doors and it just had a tin roof to protect us from the relentless rain. All we had to protect us from bugs and other animals was a mosquito net which we hung over our mattresses. Due to the lack of walls, we were often sharing the cabin with other inhabitants. We had 3 bats living under the shelf where we were sleeping and when it got dark they would come out and fly around the dorm. Another time, my friend woke to find a snake circled up between a beam and the roof just above him.

We were made to feel very at home at the camp and in the evening we would do activities like play badminton or football against the Malaysian research assistants. In the evening, we would also have lectures from some of the scientists who were also staying at the camp; this was really interesting because it really clarified what we were doing during the day collecting the results and why it was important.

By: George Strainge

I would again like to thank both the OA Club and ASPA for their kind grant towards my trip to the Borneo Rainforest. It was the best trip that I have ever been on and was very interesting in relation to climate change issues and changing land use patterns. It was great to see that the research being done there is having a real impact on rainforest conservation laws and regulations.

After arriving in Kota Kinabalu and experiencing the feeling of a rapidly urbanizing city with its various sights, sounds and smells it wasn’t long before we made our way to the Danum Field Centre. Here remains some of the most important primary rainforest in South-East Asia. At this site we got to grips with the use of soil research equipment including a soil erosion bridge, clinometer, soil core and densiometer under the supervision of recently appointed senior lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kogila Vani Annammala. On top of this Professor Rory Walsh of Swansea University gave us a detailed introduction to the research that we would be taking part in as well as taking my group for our first experience of a trek in the rainforest.

The feeling of being in the rainforest itself was almost surreal to me with the mass of noise and activity. This feeling was further enriched with the sighting of an orangutan which is a highlight of the trip that I can still vividly picture especially the great ape’s shining copper brown fur.

On the morning of leaving the camp to head to our main site of stay in Malua we woke early to see a beautiful sun rise. At Malua the bulk of our fieldwork began with a well drilled routine getting us into the jungle to collect soil site samples and to measure tree density along a transect. Post more lectures from Dr Glenn Reynolds, Mikey O’Brien and Vani we further understood the importance of the research being done in relation to changing land use patterns and climate.

Activities such as playing football against the local Malua research assistants were great fun even though the result didn’t go our way! Overall this was an unforgettable trip which I feel that I have developed from and built many new relationships with people I never knew prior to the trip.

Some pictures from their sharing:

( disclaimer: these images belongs to https://www.abingdon.org.uk/aspa_oa_travel_award_borneo_2016/)


The link of the article in pdf:
ASPA : OA Travel Award – Borneo 2016 | Abingdon | Leading Oxfordshire independent school

Its was an awesome and fun experience to be with you all.Thank you Datuk Dr Glen Reynolds (https://www.searrp.org/team/)  and the team!

Collaboration between Sabah Department of Irrigation and Drainage, University of Oxford, University of Kent, University of Lancaster,South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and UTM.


This 2 day conference highlighted  the many challenges in managing the scarce water resources in the state. The conference provides a strategic networking platform for all walks of life in-line with its theme “River – Source of Life”

Picture: Mr.Miklin Ationg (Head,Water Resources Managememt Section, Department of Irrigation and Drainage Sabah), Dr Agnes ( Assistant Director for policy, SEARRP), myself and  SEARRP Scientists Dr. Eleanor Slade, Dr. Sarah Luke.

“The protection of “riparian reserves” – 20m on either side of rivers more than 3m wide – is a legal requirement in Sabah, which is a state regulation designed to protect water quality, water quantity and aquatic environments. With a growing interest in sustainability, the possible biodiversity co-benefits of this policy have been recognised by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Sabah, including the provision of natural habitats for important species, improved landscape connectivity, and the protection of important ecosystem services such as increased carbon sequestration. However, there is currently little empirical evidence available to demonstrate that riparian reserves are effective in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems. Where research exists, these insights are often inaccessible to policy-makers and practitioners in Sabah”.-SEARRP,2017.

An article on this have also been published in SEARRP’s official website which can be viewed at :


Soil Erosion: Field Measurement

The soil erosion rate is the loss of soil mass over time for a specific land area. Erosion is a natural process caused by wind, rain and moving water. Soil erosion affects farming, construction projects and homeowners living near rivers, oceans and on terrestrial slopes. Excessive erosion is often caused by human activities, such as deforestation, road construction and intensive farming. You can calculate the soil erosion rate by measuring the loss of soil mass over a specific time period.

Currently PhD Candidate Nur Atirah is working in determining the erosion rate in:Primary forest and comparing the rates from agricultural plantations : Rubber and oil Palm along with 2 final year civil engineering undergraduate students Izhar and Fahmi. I need to mention here on the dedication and hard work that these students showed during field work. I am sure they would be fine engineers soon whom is not thinking twice to get their hands dirty in field.

This is still an on going research. Herewith sharing some field pictures taken. The study/ monitoring sites are located in state of Kelantan, Malaysia. Locations included: Primary forest, recently logged forest ( picture 1) ,

Oil palm plantation ( matured and recently planted sites) and within matured rubber plantation.
It is tough field work which requires high determination and stamina and perseverance. Working under hot sun and in rugged environment. I am lucky to have a good set of field team who was/ still is very cooperative, helpful.. and we end up having fun in the field too..

had some ‘visitors’ in the field too.. observing our monitoring and measurement action ( a huge spider- which I do not know the name of he species nor if it is poisonous: but she managed to pump in some excitement and fun during the site visit/ measuring). If anyone knows the species or if its harmful pls do drop a comment below.

Thanks to the supporting team: En Wan and En Jamal. It was a very successful field visit, and thank to almighty God for ensuring we were safe throughout the journey/ adventure. We had lucrative harvest of data.. to work with.

Water Leaders Forum 2017

 Water Leaders Forum 2017 (WLF 17) is a continuation of the Johor Water Sustainability Symposium 2017 which took place on August 7 and 8 2017, where local experts and agencies have been involved to formulate solutions to water issues in the State of Johor. In addition to creating an inspirational sharing and knowledge amongst the agencies involved, the symposium has succeeded in formulating a sustainable water management resolution that will serve as the basis for planning and managing resources and water industries. WLF 17 is organised by Johor Water Forum (JWF), an organization that is responsible to advise and assist the State Government in handling water issues. The first Forum organized by JWF held in 2015 has been a source of ideas for better resource management and water supply. The State of Johor has taken a positive step towards finding alternative sources of water and formulating strategies towards sustainable water resources management.

Among the principal issues raised during JWF 15 are;

  1. Dramatic increase for clean water demand as a result rapid developments especially in the Iskandar Region. In addition to local requirements, the State of Johor is committed to further supplying raw water resources to Singapore and Malacca;
  1. Water supply becomes more critical every time the drought occurs. Over dependency on river water will expose the state to serious water supply disruptions especially during drought;
  1. Pollution levels become more serious during dry seasons because the river’s ability to dilute the contaminants becomes limited;
  1. River pollution has become a major threat that limits the inadequate water resources;
  1. Efforts should be made to obtain more alternative sources such as groundwater, large scale rainwater harvesting, desalination  and construction of barrage;
  1. In addition to supply enhancement, the demand management approach is equally important to ensuring sustainable management. This requires changing the behaviour of users through public awareness programs, formal education at schools, imposing penalties or charges, providing incentives, and formulating appropriate policies;
  1. Integrated River Basin Management should be strengthened to ensure water resources security.


The Official Picture of the VVIP and invited speakers whom attended the first day of the forum:
YAB Dato’ Mohamed Khaled bin Nordin ( Johor Chief Minister), YB Datuk Ir Hj Hasni bin Mohammad ( Chairman of Water Leaders Forum), YE Zulkifli Marsagos Mohamad (Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Singapore). And Keynote and Invited Speakers:
Prof Mooyoung Han, Dr Kotaro Takemura, Dr Zhou Tong, Datuk Ir.Dr Azuhan Mohamed, Prof Zulkifli Yusop, Dato Teo Yen Hua, Datuk Ir. Hj Mohd Khalid Nasir, Tan Sri Dato Ir Syed Muhammad Shahabuddin, Datuk Ir Abdul Kadir Mohd Din

Dato’ Teo Yen Hua

Invited Speakers
Datuk Ir. Hj. Mohd Khalid bin Nasir
Tan Sri Dato’ Ir. Syed Muhammad Shahabuddin
Prof. Dato’ Mazlin bin Mokhtar

Datuk Ir. Haji Hasni Mohammad

Closing ceremony
YB Datuk Ir. Dr. Hamim Samuri

( Live Video by Johor Times)

The link:

#Live Water Leaders Forum 2017 – Day 2UcaptamaDato' Teo Yen HuaPembentangDatuk Ir. Hj. Mohd Khalid bin NasirTan Sri Dato' Ir. Syed Muhammad ShahabuddinProf. Dato' Mazlin bin MokhtarDiscussantDatuk Ir. Haji Hasni MohammadPerasmian PenutupYB Datuk Ir. Dr. Hamim Samuri

Posted by JohorTimes on Isnin, 2 Oktober 2017

Tan Sri Dato’ Ir. Syed Muhammad Shahabuddin
Prof. Dato’ Mazlin bin Mokhtar

Datuk Ir. Haji Hasni Mohammad

Official Closing ceremony
YB Datuk Ir. Dr. Hamim Samuri

#Live Water Leaders Forum 2017 – Day 2PembentangTan Sri Dato' Ir. Syed Muhammad ShahabuddinProf. Dato' Mazlin bin MokhtarDiscussantDatuk Ir. Haji Hasni MohammadPerasmian PenutupYB Datuk Ir. Dr. Hamim Samuri

Posted by JohorTimes on Isnin, 2 Oktober 2017

The topics discussed includes:

  1. Keynote 1His Excellency Masagos Zulkifli bin Masagos Mohamad

    Minister of Environment and Water Resource, Singapore

    Keynote Title : Recipe for Water Management Successes in Singapore

  2. Speaker 1Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mazlin bin Mokhtar – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, (UKM) Title : Integrated River Basin Management : Time for Stronger Action
  3. Speaker 2Raymond Valiant Ruritan – Main Director of Jasa Tirta 1 Title : Success story of IRBM in Kali Brantas, Indonesia
  4. Speaker 3Prof. Mooyoung Han – Seoul National University, Korea  Title : Success Story of Rainwater Harvesting in Star City, Korea
  5. Speaker 4Dr. Kotaro Takemura – Japan Water Forum

    Title : Success Story of Groundwater Utilization in Kumamoto, Japan

  6. Speaker 5Dr. Zhou Tong – Deputy General Manager, UES Holding Pte. Lmt., Singapore Title : Making Desalination a Viable Option
  7. Speaker 6Datuk Ir. Dr. Azuhan bin Mohamed – Director General National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM)

    Title : Groundwater Potential and Misconception in Malaysia

  8. Keynote 2Dato’ Teo Yen Hua

    Former CEO of The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) Tajuk Ucaptama : A Decade of Water Industry Reform : Time to Reflect

  9. Speaker 7Datuk Ir. Hj. Mohd Khalid bin Nasir – CEO, Syarikat Air Melaka Berhad Title : Challenges in Water Supply Industry Reform in Malaysia
  10. Speaker 8Tan Sri Dato’ Ir. Syed Muhammad Shahabuddin

    SMHB/Academy of Science Malaysia

    Title : Ensuring a Win-Win Water Partnership between the State and Federal Entities

  11. Speaker 9Datuk Ir. Abdul Kadir bin Mohd Din – President of The Malaysian Water Association (MWA)

    Title : Water Sustainability: The Roles of NGO and the Public