UM inks academic partnership with Sabah Parks Board of Trustees

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaya (UM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sabah Parks Board of Trustees for academic cooperation from 2018 to 2022 in the city of Kota Kinabalu. Speaking during the MoU signing ceremony here yesterday, Dean of UM Faculty of Built Environment Prof Dr Yahaya Ahmad said the nation’s direction has shifted towards national transformation agendas which focused on inclusive planning. Thus, he said, this calls for new approaches in producing human capitals whose knowledge are not only limited in the context of higher education but also a two-way learning with the community.

“UM as the 114th best university in the world as announced by QS World University Ranking 2017 and the leading university in Malaysia, will not only further research activities with Sabah Parks but will also intensify activities that can benefit the community in general by sharing knowledge through training sessions, conferences and workshops for capacity building,” he said. He added that the university’s mission to advance knowledge through quality research and education is in line with Sabah Parks’ mission in preserving natural values of Sabah which act as a legacy for its people. He noted that UM and Sabah Parks have had academic cooperation since 2005 involving several researchers that include – sustainable tourism development project in Kinabalu Park (2005-2008) funded by GTZ-DAAD, tourists profile survey in world heritage sites with a case study at Kinabalu Park (2009-2010) funded by British Council and tourists profile and perception studies as well as tourism administration at world heritage sites funded by Higher Education Ministry through Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (2011-2017).

The MoU, said Yahaya, will significantly impact Sabah Parks’ effort in reaching their vision – people of Sabah living harmoniously with nature. “With the receipt of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) grant from Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) for four years (Oct2017-Sept 20121) entitled ‘Building Capacity for Sustainable Interactions with Marine Ecosystems for Health, Wellbeing, Food and Livelihoods of Coastal Communities’, I am confident that the cooperation between UM and Sabah Parks will continue to grow closer and become more meaningful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Sabah, Datu Rusmadi Datu Sulai concurred that the strategic collaboration will positively impact and benefit both sides particularly in different fields of researches. “For Sabah Parks, this research cooperation will help them better manage protected areas. Of course for UM, this cooperation will open up space and opportunities to conduct various researches that could be published globally,” he said.

He added that the many research activities conducted would not only benefit UM students but also Sabah Parks’ members through joint researches, publications, reports and academic materials, subsequently elevating the skills of its’ staffs in research and writing. He pointed out that Sabah Parks need to develop close working relationship with other institutions especially academic institutions to fulfil its responsibility in managing natural treasures. According to him, Sabah Parks has had strong research cooperation with Kew Botanical Garden, Kyoto University and recently with WWF for sustainable TMP management apart from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka for the publication of general and education materials.

He added that more collaboration with other agencies is on the way. “I believe with the improvement of knowledge, practice and understanding related to a particular field will be gained through this cooperation. “Therefore, it is important that these research findings are documented and be made as guidelines in managing protected areas in the future. “I also see this close cooperation would drive Sabah Parks as a leading platform in ecosystem researches that leads to the management of protected areas in our country’s tropical areas, and even towards the international level,” asserted Datu Rusmadi. Established in 1964, Sabah Parks is responsible in managing nine parks covering approximately 12 million hectares and plays the roles of protecting, conserving and sustaining natural areas of high aesthetic values in order for it to remain preserved for the purpose of scientific researches as well as recreational areas for present and future generations.  Also present during the ceremony were chairman of Sabah Parks Board of Trustees Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamod and Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais.

(Source : The New Sabah Times, checked & edited by Sabah Parks)