04 W3 Biodiversity Information Management and TK in Sabah



04 W3 Biodiversity Information Management and TK in Sabah
Biodiversity Information
Management & TK in Sabah
Traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions take on a variety of names,
amongst them indigenous knowledge, community knowledge, traditional ecological
knowledge, local knowledge, folklore, cultural heritage and indigenous heritage.
Regardless of the term used, it includes an in-depth knowledge of indigenous peoples
on plants, animals and natural phenomena, oral practices of native languages, cultural
artefacts, ritual traditions and ceremonies, development and use of appropriate
technologies for hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture and forestry, and, holistic
knowledge of natural history.
Traditional knowledge (TK) is a source of great value. The value it brings to the
environment is seen through its use in resource management, conservation education,
environmental assessment and development planning. New biological and ecological
discoveries are obtained through traditional knowledge, which, when investigated, leads
to the development of scientific knowledge. This is particularly evident within the
biotechnology industry.
The Biotechnology Industry in Malaysia
The vast size of the biotechnology industry in Malaysia is evident through its 2008
revenue of RM10 billion, a figure forecasted to grow to RM20 billion by 2013. With the
rise of modern biotechnology, genetic resources have taken on increasing economic,
scientific and commercial value. Traditional knowledge associated with these genetic
resources has, in effect, attracted widespread attention from a growing audience, a
signal of its growing value to the economy.
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Biotechnology Industry Size (Revenue 2008), Malaysia
[Source: BiotechCorp – Malaysian Biotechnology Human Capital Development Capital Report 2009]
Closed system
A management
information system
that is restricted to
specific users to
ensure the protection
of data, a decision
linked with economic
purposes. It consists
of primary data.
The collection and
management of
information from one
or more sources and
the distribution of
that information to
one or more
Intellectual Property
Rights is a term
referring to a
number of distinct
types of creations of
the mind for which
property rights are
Biotechnology Growth Forecast (RM Billion), Malaysia
[Source: BiotechCorp – Malaysian Biotechnology Human Capital Development Capital Report 2009]
Protecting Traditional Knowledge
Open system
A management
Intellectual property refers to the recognition of property rights over a range of types of
information system
rights to these creations, such as musical, literary, and artistic works, discoveries and
which serves as a
inventions, and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.
creations of the mind. Under intellectual property law, owners are given certain exclusive
knowledge base
and is open to users.
Common Types of Intellectual Property
It consists of
processed data.
Protection of both published and unpublished creations.
Biodiversity Information Management & TK in Sabah
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Protection of words, phrases, symbols, logos, designs, or devices that are used in
association with a particular brand or good which distinguishes it from other products
within the same industry.
Protection of inventions.
Trade Secrets
Protection of practices, designs, formulas, processes, recipes, or ideas used by a
company that allows it to gain leverage in its industry.
Many changes in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have occurred in the 21st century,
hastened by modern technology. The protection of intellectual property is no longer seen
solely as the granting of rights, but as a means to create a balance in community,
culture and social development. One of the most controversial debates at an
international level related to IPR is to do with the protection of TK, traditional cultural
expressions (TCE) and genetic resources (GR). These resources are important in
medicine and health, agriculture and food, trade and development, transfer of
technology, as well as for cultural and humanitarian rights. Protecting TK, TCE and GR
can prevent immoral activities related to its use, avoid its destruction and loss, avoid
exploitation by irresponsible parties, assist in its conservation and preservation, and
provide benefits to indigenous and local communities from commercial gain.
Malaysia has responded to the growing issue and expanding value of TK, TCE and GR
by recognizing the need for:
a legal framework for its protection, which includes intellectual property;
laws on Access and Benefit Sharing;
a database collection on TK, TCE & GR, to allow for efficient management of
Types of Management Information
There are two potential methods to manage information.
1. Open System
This system, which serves as a knowledge base, is open to users. It consists of
processed data, and is vital for learning purposes such as research.
The Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) is an example of an open system. It is used to
assist policy makers and interested stakeholders to meet obligations under the CBD. Its
strategies are wrapped around three major goals:
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the promotion and facilitation of technical and scientific cooperation
the promotion and facilitation of information exchange among relevant parties
(including ministries, government agencies, research institutes, academia, media
and business), and
the establishment of a fully operational mechanism with participation of all.
In Malaysia, the Bio-D Database is maintained as part of the CBD National Clearing
House Mechanism. This database has links to more than 100 web locations,
agreements (MEAs), environmental policy documents and relevant legislation, data on
implementing agencies, national focal points, research institutes, universities and NGOs,
biodiversity, and environment-related publications. Other data are on experts, habitats
and ecosystems, and threat assessment and conservation statuses.
Conceptual Framework of the Malaysian CHM
[Source: Development of Malaysia’s Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism, Presentation by Dr.
Gary Theseria
The Bio-D Database is in line with Malaysia’s National Biodiversity Strategies and Action
Plans (NBSAP), which aim to transform Malaysia into a center of excellence for
conservation, research and sustainable use of tropical biodiversity by the year 2020. A
comprehensive database supports efforts to develop additional sectoral policies and
laws governing biodiversity by providing access to a significant amount of data required
to allow decision-making on important matters such as increasing the number of existing
Virgin Jungle Reserves and implementing the National Policy for Integrated Coastal
Zone Management.
Challenges and Opportunities of the Bio-D Database
data fragmentation (data scattered across research institutes, universities,
government agencies and NGOs)
different administrative systems (causing a lack of coordination by, and between
federal, state and local governments)
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data heterogeneity (caused by differences in data maturity, database formats and
software options)
lack of expertise, and funding
differences in national priorities
repatriation of data and specimens which allows effective collection of data
collaborative research which expedites the collection process
cross-cutting issues such as other MEAs, sustainable development issues and those
relating to indigenous knowledge and IPR which, in one way or another, supports or
promotes the need for a comprehensive database
2. Closed System
This system is restricted to specific users to ensure the protection of data, a decision
linked with economic purposes. It consists of primary data.
One example is the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). Under this system,
data is protected to allow for patents, bio-industry development and promotion, and
policy and strategy formulation. A pilot project named MyTKDL was launched on 23 April
2009 as a result of collaboration between the State of Sabah, Department of Orang Asli
Affairs Malaysia, UKM Institute for Environment and Development, and Intellectual
Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO). MyTKDL serves to avoid the total
degradation and loss of traditional knowledge and information, avoid the exploitation and
misuse of related information, stimulate innovation based on available knowledge, and
ensure equitable benefit sharing.
Database Networks in Sabah
Initiatives to collect biocultural data in Sabah have been conducted by Sabah Museum
and Sabah Forestry Department.
Biocultural Database of the Sabah Museum
Sabah Museum’s database is focused on ethnobotany, the study of the inter-relationship
between people and plants, people’s classification, management and sustainable use of
the plant kingdom. At least 1,835 species of ethnobotanical importance have been
documented in Sabah, one of the world’s 12 mega-biodiversity hot spots. Ethnobotany
documentation is based on the traditional knowledge of more than 30 indigenous ethnic
communities of Sabah.
Ethnobotanical documentation is based on the Traditional Indigenous Knowledge of these
indigenous ethnic communities of Sabah and their cosmology.
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Sabah Forestry Department’s Biodiversity Database Network
A wide range of topics are researched under the Forest Research Centre (FRC)
Research Programme including natural forest management, plantation silviculture,
utilization of forest products, tree breeding and seed source establishment, plant and
insect diversity, tourism, and biotechnology. Intensive research has resulted in a huge
amount of available data - one can source over 250,000 specimens at the Sandakan
Herbarium, over 110,000 specimens at the Insect Museum, more than 10,000 books at
the FRC Library and over 5,000 wood samples at the Wood Library. The need for the
database came about due to the lack of a systematic method for how data was kept, to
ease access and research, to optimize the use of data, and to share information.
Biodiversity Database of
Sabah Forestry Department
[Source: Establishment &
Management of SFD’s Biodiversity
Database Network, Presentation
by Mr. Anuar bin Mohammad ]
A Biodiversity Information Management
System for Sabah
The Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 (SBE 2000) insists on an effective information
management system. This is to enable the Sabah Biodiversity Council to advise the
State Government on matters relating to the conservation and sustainable use of
biological resources which arms the government with the means to consider, formulate
and review State policy with regard to biotechnology and application of biotechnology.
To ensure the effectiveness of a management system, plans of the Sabah Biodiversity
Centre (SaBC), who acts on behalf of the Council, include:
Identifying issues at an organizational level that need to be addressed, which may
include strategic direction, capacity building of personnel, awareness, financial, and
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Identifying issues at a system (inter-organizational) level that need to be addressed,
which may include policy, strategy, conflicting vision/mission, individualism,
motivation/incentives, awareness, network failure, and financial.
The potential for applications of traditional knowledge in the future is immense.
Traditional knowledge is either currently, or has the potential to be, applied (and then
expanded), in education, agroforestry, biotechnology, sustainable environmental and
resource management, medical sciences, health care, eco-tourism, community/social
forestry, environmental conservation education, intellectual property, and TEK digital
automation. This potential highlights the need for solid management of biodiversity
information which includes, as stated in Article 9(1)(a) of the SBE 2000....... ‘the status,
magnitude, distribution, usage and value of the biodiversity in the State’. Solid
management of biodiversity supports, amongst others, management decisions aimed at
ensuring the sustainable management of biodiversity, regulating access to biological
resources (therefore protecting rights to traditional knowledge), and promoting the
utilization of biological resources through biotechnology activities.
Suggested Reading
Guntavid, J.P. (1983). Tinjauan Awal Ke Atas Tumbuhan Ubatan Tradisional di Sabah. Tesis Sarjana Muda Sains,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Guntavid, J.P.
(1991). A Long-Term Collections Management Plan. University of Leicester, England,
U.K., M. Sc.
Dissertation. Univ. of Leics., U.K.
Guntavid, J.P. (1996). Cherish Your Language Through Indigenous Knowledge. Kadazandusun Language Foundation.
Guntavid, J.P. (1997). Ethnobotany of the Betung-Kerihun National Parks West Kalimantan, in Borneo Biodiversity
Expedition, International Tropical Timber Organization, Japan.
Guntavid, J.P. (2001). Ethnobotanical Collections: Objects of Knowledge as a Tool for the Conservation of Biodiversity in
Malaysia. Sabah Museum Monograph Vol. 6 (2001). Sabah Museum, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Jianchu, X. & Ruscoe, M.T. (1993). The Use of Indigenous Knowledge in Agrosystem Management for Biodiversity
Conservation: A Case Study in Baranguay Haliap, Kiangan, Ifuago, Central Cordillera, Philippines. University of Philippines
Los Banos, Institute of Environmental Science and Management and Ford Foundation.
Kingston, D & Ford, J. (2007). Documenting the Cultural Geography, Biogeography, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Of King Island, Alaska. Oregon State University, Corvallis.
McGregor, D. (2006). Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Ideas: The Arts and Science Review, vol. 3, no 1, Spring,
Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto, Canada.
Gardens, Kew. Chapman & Hall.
Shukla, S & Gardner, J.S.
(2005). The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Education For Community-Based
Resource Management. University of Manitoba, Canada.
WWF Malaysia. (Mac 1994). Unsur-Unsur Pendidikan Alam Sekitar Dalam Kajian Tempatan. WWF Malaysia.
UMS. (2003). Etnobotani Suku Kaum Orang Sungai Hilir Kinabatangan. Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.
22 JULY 2009
Dr. Gary Theseria
Forest Research Institute Malaysia /
Biodiversity Information Management & TK in Sabah
Volume 4
Managing Traditional Knowledge Information
How does information on TK contribute to Biotechnology Promotion in Sabah?
[Source: Biodiversity Information Management System from SaBC’s Perspective, Presentation by
Dr. Abdul Fatah Amir]
Ms. Yusnieza Syarmila
Intellectual Property Corporation of
Datuk Joseph Pounis Guntavid
Sabah Museum
Professor Abdul Hamid Ahmad
Universiti Malaysia Sabah/UMS
Mr. Anuar bin Mohammad
Sabah Forestry Department/SFD
Dr. Abdul Fatah Amir
Sabah Biodiversity Centre/SaBC
All contents in this volume have been
compiled from information generated at
this workshop. Thanks is extended to all
the presenters and facilitators for their
valuable contributions towards the
SBE 2000 Article 9(1)(a): providing the Government and other institutions
approved by the Government with accurate information or data on the status,
magnitude, distribution, usage and value of the biodiversity in the State.
Images in this volume were taken by
Clement Intang, Noah Jackson,
Remmy Alfie Awang and Roger
Sabah Biodiversity Centre
Natural Resources Office
Chief Minister’s Department
7th Floor, Menara Tun Mustapha
88502 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
Email: [email protected]
Southeast Asia Regional Programme
Global Diversity Foundation
c/o Sabah Parks
P.O. Box 10626
88806 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
Email: [email protected]
Citation: SaBC & GDF. 2010.
Biodiversity Information
Management & TK in Sabah
(M.A.Sham Ed). Biocultural Diversity
and Conservation Learning Platform
Briefing Notes, Vol 4. Compiled
from a workshop on Biodiversity
Information Management & TK in
Sabah, 22 July 2009, Kota
Kinabalu, Sabah.
The project Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Sabah: A Consolidation of Issues and
Experiences related to Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Resource Management (Jan
2009 – July 2010) is a collaboration between the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF), and the
Bornean Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Phase Two Programme (BBEC II), and is
funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project contributes towards the
implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Sabah, and Malaysia in general.
~ Component One ~
~ Component Two ~
The Learning Platform for Biocultural Diversity
and Conservation is the first component of this
collaborative project. Over 18 months, the
Learning Platform has delivered a series of
workshops and seminars aimed at broadening
our understanding of the issues and recent
developments concerning traditional ecological
knowledge. This exchange of information and
sharing of expertise allowed for the
strengthening of capacity of conservation
agencies, local communities and civil society
organizations to address Access and Benefit
Sharing issues in Sabah.
The second component focused on the
Identification of Potential Indigenous Peoples’
and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in
Sabah. We conducted a state-wide review to
explore, assess the status, and identify
measures to recognize and support community
conservation in Sabah. Recently included in
the IUCN Guidelines on Categories of
Protected Areas, ICCAs uphold indigenous
peoples’ rights to their lands and resources as
enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, to which Malaysia is a
This briefing note was edited, compiled and designed by Marina Aman Sham

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