About MBCA


Maliau Basin Conservation Area, 58,840 ha, also known as Sabah’s Lost World is a huge bowl of pristine forests described as one of the few remaining relatively untouched wilderness areas in the world.

Bounded by a formidable escarpment reaching over 1,675m above sea level, the almost circular Basin, one of Malaysia’s finest remaining wilderness areas, encompasses 390 km² of pristine forest, a virtually self-contained ecosystem, never permanently inhabited and with large areas still remaining to be explored and documented.

The whole Basin is a single huge water catchment, drained by only one river, the Maliau River, which flows out through a gorge in the southeast of the Basin, joining the Kuamut River and eventually the Kinabatangan, Sabah’s largest and most important river.

Recognizing the uniqueness of the area, in 1981 Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated Maliau Basin as a Conservation Area, for the purposes of research, education and training, along with Danum Valley Conservation Area further to the east.

In 1997, Maliau Basin Conservation Area was upgraded by the Sabah state government to a Class 1 Protection Forest Reserve, providing legal status as a protected area, and extended to its present size of 588.4 km² by incorporating forested land to the east and north of the Basin. Buffer zones surrounding the whole Conservation Area also add to its protection.

The Sabah State Government has approved the World Heritage Site (WHS) nomination of Maliau Basin together with Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon as a single heritage site which will be called DaMaI, an abbreviation of Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon.


Located in central Sabah, one of two east Malaysian states in the island of Borneo, MBCA is accessible from Tawau or Kota Kinabalu and takes about 4 to 5 hour drive. 4WDs vehicle is recommended as part of the journey is on dirt/graveled road.

Important Milestones

1947 – First described in print, light aircraft narrowly missed the cliffs of the northern rim
1960 – Geological/soil survey teams passed nearby
1972 – Forestry Dept team conduct inventory work at Lake Linumunsut
1976 – First recorded attempt to enter the Basin, failed, unable to conquer the northern rim
1978 – Follow up survey by Forestry Dept at Lake Linumunsut area
1980 – Sabah Museum team attempted western rim, failed due to Malaria and lack of supplies
1981 – YS sent teams to northern rim by helicopter to cut rentis and construct helipad
1982 – Preliminary survey team enters the Basin
1984 – YS designated the Area as Conservation Area
1997 – Gazetted as a Class 1 (Protection FR)
1998 – Gazetted Forest (MBCA) Rules 1998
2006 – Eucalyptus Camp Scientific Expedition jointly organized by Yayasan Sabah and Academy of Sciences Malaysia
2007 – Official Opening the Shell Maliau Basin Reception and Information Building at MBCA Security Gate
2011 – Official Opening of the Maliau Basin Studies Centre by YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia
2012/2013 – Review of MBCA Strategic Management Plan 2003-2012 (Collaboration between Yayasan Sabah and NEPCon, Denmark with Funding from Aage V. Jansen Foundation)
2013 – MBCA Wildlife & Resource Survey; MBCA Stakeholders Workshop

Management Objectives
  • Protection of biodiversity in all its forms;
  • Promotion of research on intact ecosystems and on the disturbance and recovery of logged ecosystems;
  • Promotion of education and training in conservation, natural history, ecology, forestry and related sciences;
  • Promotion of appropriate recreation and nature tourism where this does not conflict with other priorities; and
  • Integration of conservation, forestry and nature tourism in and around the reserve to create a model sustainable forest management area.

Organisational Setup

MBCA is managed by YSG on behalf of the Maliau Basin Management Committee (MBMC). It is one of the rare areas where many agencies, both state and national, are involved in steering its direction. Today, there are over 16 organizations in the Maliau Basin Management Committee (MBMC), representing a broad spectrum of Malaysian Society.

The principle members of the Committee are Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Yayasan Sabah (YS), Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah (MTCE) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). The Chairmanship of MBMC are rotated among the principle members.

Other members are Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Sabah Parks, Sabah Museum, Sabah Biodiversity Centre, Academy of Sciences Malaysia, National University of Malaysia (UKM), Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), University Putra Malaysia (UPM), University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), the State Department of Conservation Environment, the district offices of Tongod, Nabawan and Keningau as well as the Tawau City Council.

In 1999, a joint project, Management of Maliau Basin, was initiated between Yayasan Sabah and DANCED (Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development)/DANIDA (Danish International Development Assistance).

This collaborative project resulted in the formulation of the 1st Strategic Management Plan for MBCA, with the objective of securing the conservation of Maliau Basin for the benefit of Sabah, Malaysia and the international community. Another key output of the Project is the establishment of Maliau Basin Studies Centre (MBSC).

MBMC Chairman
  1. Daniel K.S. Khiong, Director, Sabah Forestry Department (1999 -2003)
  2. Datuk Sam Mannan, Director, Sabah Forestry Department (2004-2007)
  3. Tan Sri Datu Khalil bin Datu Hj. Jamalul, J.P., Director, Yayasan Sabah (2008 – 2012)
  4. Datuk Michael Emban, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment, Sabah (2013-2014)
  5. Datuk Ginun Yangus, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment, Sabah (2015-present)

Conservation Partners

Yayasan Sabah is most lucky to have the support and generous contributions from several local and international organizations. Among our prominent partners in conservation of MBCA are the following:

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