IMBAK CANYON CONSERVATION AREA
With a total area of about 30,000 hectares, Imbak Canyon Conservation Area encompasses two ridge-top Virgin Jungle Reserves plus the Canyon itself and makes a significant contribution to the coverage of protected areas in the centre of Sabah. Imbak Canyon is the biological gene bank of Sabah Borneo.
The Canyon is a Class II Commercial Forest Reserve, part of the one million hectare Yayasan Sabah Forest Management Area. In 2003, Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated Imbak Canyon as a Conservation Area for the purposes of research, education and training, similar to Maliau Basin and Danum Valley Conservation Areas. Only two expeditions have so far been carried out in the area, one in 2000 organised by Sabah Forestry Department and located at the mouth of the Canyon, and the second in 2004, organized by Yayasan Sabah and focusing on the centre of the Canyon.
Imbak Canyon Conservation Area encompasses several different types of forest including lowland dipterocarp forest and rare lower montane heath forest, a lower altitude version of the famous ‘kerangas’ of Maliau Basin, with its special magical world of small, slender trees, pitcher plants and orchids. The dipterocarps kapur and keruing are common in the lower areas, with kapur seedlings particularly abundant.
As a potential site for biotechnological research, Imbak has proved to be a rich source of medicinal plants, with more than 55 different species found. Ant plant found in the heath forest, used traditionally as a medicinal plant The pitcher plant Nepenthes hirsuta has also been found in the lower montane heath forest, only the second sighting in Sabah, the other being in Maliau Basin.