KUCHING: Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) should broaden its scope by converting their research findings into commercial uses, said Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He pointed out that while Sarawak is rich in biodiversity and natural resources, it lacks practical and commercial applications that can bring not only real solutions to the world but contribute to the state’s economic and knowledge growth.
“There is a lot of hidden wealth in SBC, thus it’s important that they further their activities not only by focusing on research and development but in product development, marketing and commercialisation of their research findings,” he said.
“All these stress further the importance of why we need to preserve and protect our environment,” he highlighted after a briefing on SBC and its key activities by the centre’s chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Yeo Tiong Chia on Wednesday.
Abang Johari had earlier launched SBC’s Nature Trails and witnessed the exchange of documents on collaboration between Mitsubishi Corporation and SBC at the centre along Jalan Borneo Heights in Semenggoh here.
With a library of research findings, which are useful and commercially viable, Abang Johari believes that the centre can attract both domestic and foreign investors including small and medium entrepreneurs based on their needs and interests.
“We will discuss with the Cabinet on this matter especially the need to set up a central council or an investment arm to tap into the commercial aspects as obviously there is huge impact on our economy,” he said.
Abang Johari later pledged to help SBC develop this missing commercial link and exploit the benefits of its intellectual property.
“We will get the venture capital from the state government and work with SBC as well as other interested parties to develop the business aspect here because there’s definitely a great potential,” he added.
Earlier, he urged SBC to focus on mass production of the Litsara plant that produces essential oil from its leaves and fruits for commercial uses, especially in the cosmetics industry.
“We can create a plantation if this plant has the potential to generate higher value per hectare like the oil palm. Saberkas (Sarawak United National Youths Organisation) has a 600-acre land in Samarahan where you can plant to supply for the cosmetics industry,” he suggested.
“So, I’ll give you (SBC) now until October to come up with a proposal to develop this Litsara plant for the commercial market. The future is very bright for this sector and we will back you up,” he added.
On the Nature Trails, SBC now offers an interesting trekking experience along its two nature trails which consist of Ecology and Discovery trails.
The Ecology trail passes through two distinct ecosystems in the alluvial forest and old lowland secondary forest, while the Discovery trail passes through a lowland rainforest which has been disturbed around the 1940s.
These two trails are open to visitors via reservations or pre-arranged appointments. Each trail is limited to a maximum of 15 persons at any one time.
The guided trekking activity for each trail takes about an hour.
The main objective is to promote environmental education and conservation as well as providing a unique rainforest experience to learn about plants and scents to visitors.
State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Assistant Environment Minister Datu Len Talif Salleh and permanent secretary to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry Datu Ik Pahon were among those present.