KUCHING, 15 FEBRUARY 2017 – Marine research efforts in the State will be stepped-up as the project sites for RIMBA (Research for Intensified Management of Bio-rich Areas) Sarawak research platform are extended to include the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park (MSCRNP). A memorandum of understanding to enable this was signed between SARAWAK FORESTRY Corporation (SFC) and Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin) today. Curtin joins the Smithsonian Institution, the Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the NUS Lee Kong Chian Museum of Natural History by contributing its expertise in marine sciences and paleoenvironmental studies.

On hand at the signing ceremony were SFC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Wong Ting Chung, SFC’s Deputy General Manager Oswald Braken Tisen, Curtin’s Pro Vice-Chancellor/ CEO, Professor Jim Mienczakowski, and Professor Clem Kuek, Director of the Curtin Malaysia Research Institute (CMRI).

MSCRNP is the fifth RIMBA Sarawak project site announced. Nanga Segerak and Nanga Bloh in Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Nanga Delok in Batang Ai National Park and Ulu Sebuyau National Park were announced as the initial project sites during the launch of the project on 20 August 2015 by the late Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Haji Adenan Haji Satem, the then Chief Minister of Sarawak.

Prof. Jim Mienczakowski stated that “Curtin has steadily grown its engagement with the biodiversity in its region in the north of Sarawak with large investments in research in the Baram Catchment and the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park.” He explained that in Coral Reefs National Park, “the Curtin Malaysia Research Institute funds researchers on various projects which will provide data for research-informed conservation of that bio-rich area where the coral and fish diversity match those in the Coral Triangle.” Holistic research concerning MSCRNP would be conducted wherein focus areas would not be limited to the waters where the Miri-Sibuti reefs are but would also include inland areas of the Baram River which eventually flows to the South China Sea.

Wong at the event indicated that “the research proposed by Curtin is exactly what we need to study and document the plethora of biodiversity components of our national parks. It is hoped that the research findings will in due course help us to formulate management plans for the sustainability of the national parks concerned, starting with Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park.”

The Director of the CMRI Prof. Clem Kuek revealed that “projects in the Coral Reefs National Park include studies on the sustainability of park sizing via quantitative surveys of fish and coral populations, the effect of sedimentation from the Baram River on coral development, and paleogeochemistry to reconstruct ancient climate regimes to place offshore Miri as another location in the world where the history of climate change can be referenced.”