Terminal Evaluation for Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Malaysia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2020
Completion Date:
04/2020
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
85,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation for Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah
Atlas Project Number: 00063217
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Malaysia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 04/2020
Planned End Date: 06/2020
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
SDG Target
  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
Evaluation Budget(US $): 85,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 85,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
James Berdach Lead jayberd123@gmail.com
Yeo Bee Hong Environmental Economist ybeehong@gmail.com
Tong Pei Sin Biodiversity Specialist peisin@hotmail.com
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-4
GEF Project ID: 4182
PIMS Number: 4186
Key Stakeholders: Sabah Forestry Department
Countries: MALAYSIA
Lessons
1.

Proper planning and preparation for the utilization of research data is essential. A considerable proportion of the project budget was invested into generating research data, which provided an opportunity to establish a rigorous, science-based foundation for decision- making. However, equally important as the production of accurate and reliable data, is consideration of how the information will be applied and communicated, by whom and for whom. Adequate preparation needs to be made, to ensure that the intended users are properly prepared to understand, manage, and apply the data. This requires careful consideration and planning, and should be accompanied by appropriate training with counterparts at the outset of any such data-gathering effort.


2.

An initial period of socialization may help to reduce delays later on, and make project start-up processes smoother. An introductory preparatory period of socialization is being considered as standard practice for future GEF projects to afford sufficient time to enable 58 project personnel to familiarize themselves with project administrative, financial and monitoring requirements.30 As the Sabah MFL project involved different types of reporting at various levels, for both administrative and financial functions, socialization would be important to ensure an efficient and smooth start-up. This might include, for example, detailed briefings and guidance by the Executing Agency on standard administrative and financial reporting procedures and requirements for GEF projects. Providing additional training on standard tools used by GEF in designing and monitoring projects (e.g., SRF, METT, theory of change) to ensure good understanding among project personnel, would also be important. Administratively, recruitment of key personnel can often result in prolonged delays at project startup. The socialization phase would provide time for these processes to proceed more smoothly. In addition, a socialization period would enable greater communication, coordination and strategic planning with stakeholders concerning the most effective mechanisms and approaches to be applied for project implementation.


3.

An initial period of socialization may help to reduce delays later on, and make project start-up processes smoother. An introductory preparatory period of socialization is being considered as standard practice for future GEF projects to afford sufficient time to enable 58 project personnel to familiarize themselves with project administrative, financial and monitoring requirements.30 As the Sabah MFL project involved different types of reporting at various levels, for both administrative and financial functions, socialization would be important to ensure an efficient and smooth start-up. This might include, for example, detailed briefings and guidance by the Executing Agency on standard administrative and financial reporting procedures and requirements for GEF projects. Providing additional training on standard tools used by GEF in designing and monitoring projects (e.g., SRF, METT, theory of change) to ensure good understanding among project personnel, would also be important. Administratively, recruitment of key personnel can often result in prolonged delays at project startup. The socialization phase would provide time for these processes to proceed more smoothly. In addition, a socialization period would enable greater communication, coordination and strategic planning with stakeholders concerning the most effective mechanisms and approaches to be applied for project implementation.


4.

A high level of commitment and engagement from concerned agencies (and other stakeholders) is essential for project success. The project benefitted from the high level of commitment and engagement from key agencies and organizations (including government agencies, private sector and NGOs) to ensure the smooth implementation of the project at the project management and implementation levels.


5.

The private sector can play an important role in biodiversity conservation, especially in a multiple-use landscape setting. Because of the stress placed on the “multiple-use” nature of forest management in the project, the private sector (specifically, Rakyat Berjaya as the concession holder under YS, and other private contractors) were closely involved in implementation. This provided a mechanism for collaboration and engagement with the private sector, for assessing ways to mainstream biodiversity into management practices on the ground. Through their involvement in the project, managers in the private sector became more attuned and sensitized to the critical need for strengthening biodiversity conservation interventions in the context of a multiple-use forest landscape.


6.

“Analysis paralysis” can prevent progress from being made, while adopting the Nike “Just Do It” approach may help to overcome barriers and lead to successful testing of innovative methods. Sometimes, situations arise in which it is necessary to take action in a timely manner so that a project or activity can move forward—even if the proposed methodology has not been fully proven.31 In such cases, delaying the action so that further fine-tuning can be done in greater detail, may be counter-productive. As long as the proponent has a reasonable level of confidence that a particular method will not have adverse environmental consequences, “just doing it” may enable the methods to be tested, proven, and adapted or adjusted as needed—this can lead to new insights and innovative solutions. This approach is very much in line with the GEF focus on testing and developing new and innovative methodologies which can be more widely applied through replication


7.

To ensure success in carrying out complex multi-dimensional projects, experienced leadership is required. The Sabah MFL project was a complex, multi-dimensional endeavor, involving a wide range of stakeholders, and requiring a good technical understanding of the issues concerning multiple use forest landscape management. Good leadership skills that are needed to ensure successful performance in such a project would include (among others): good social and communications skills, tolerance, and patience, and a good understanding of the scientific method, and the ability to design, manage and implement appropriate scientific field research activities


8.

To develop appropriate management mechanisms, it is important that preparatory steps are carried out in a logical sequence. For example, to prepare for formulation of an environmental management policy, the first step would be data gathering. After necessary information is obtained, a feasibility analysis would be conducted. Only after these steps have been completed would it be appropriate to formulate the policy. Formulating the policy without having gone through the proper preparatory steps would result in having a policy with inherent weaknesses.


Findings
Recommendations
1

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

2

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
- Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
- communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

3

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

4

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

5

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

6

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

7

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

8

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

9

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

10

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

11

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
? Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
? Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
? Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with

12

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

13
14

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

15

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

16

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

17

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

18

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

19

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

20

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

21

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

22

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
- Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
- Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
- Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with stakeholders.
- Time allocation for the procurement of consultants: The average time involved in
the engagement of a consultant under the project was around seven months. For new
projects, sufficient time should be reflected in the workplan in anticipation of the
potential delays in the procurement of consultants.
- Communication strategies, knowledge management and capacity building:
Communications, knowledge transfer, and capacity building are important elements
of all projects. For the Sabah MFL project, very little attention was paid to these
aspects, and weaknesses resulted because of this. For new projects, it is
recommended that adequate attention be paid at the outset to incorporating strong
programs for communications, knowledge management, and capacity building.

23

7. Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives. While
not much emphasis was placed on linkage with other related initiatives during project design
and implementation, there is still opportunity to apply lessons learned from the project (as
presented in this TE) and to link these with ongoing or new initiatives. Doing so would provide
possible opportunities for gaining useful insights about viable mechanisms for strengthened
conservation of biodiversity, building capacity, and knowledge-sharing. Among the initiatives
that might derive benefits from the lessons of the Sabah MFL project are: the activities of the
Sabah Biodiversity Council; activities associated with implementation of the Sabah
Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, the proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; and the proposed
listing of the DaMaI (Danum-Maliau-Imbak) area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lessons
from the project will inform the design and choice of policy and management decisionmaking

24

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

25

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
? Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
? communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and

- means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

26

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

27

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

28

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

29

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

30

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

31

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

32

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

33

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

34

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
? Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
? Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
? Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with

35

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

36
37

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

38

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

39

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

40

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

41

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

42

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

43

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

44

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

45

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
- Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
- Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
- Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with stakeholders.
- Time allocation for the procurement of consultants: The average time involved in
the engagement of a consultant under the project was around seven months. For new
projects, sufficient time should be reflected in the workplan in anticipation of the
potential delays in the procurement of consultants.
- Communication strategies, knowledge management and capacity building:
Communications, knowledge transfer, and capacity building are important elements
of all projects. For the Sabah MFL project, very little attention was paid to these
aspects, and weaknesses resulted because of this. For new projects, it is
recommended that adequate attention be paid at the outset to incorporating strong
programs for communications, knowledge management, and capacity building.

46

7. Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives. While
not much emphasis was placed on linkage with other related initiatives during project design
and implementation, there is still opportunity to apply lessons learned from the project (as
presented in this TE) and to link these with ongoing or new initiatives. Doing so would provide
possible opportunities for gaining useful insights about viable mechanisms for strengthened
conservation of biodiversity, building capacity, and knowledge-sharing. Among the initiatives
that might derive benefits from the lessons of the Sabah MFL project are: the activities of the
Sabah Biodiversity Council; activities associated with implementation of the Sabah
Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, the proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; and the proposed
listing of the DaMaI (Danum-Maliau-Imbak) area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lessons
from the project will inform the design and choice of policy and management decisionmaking

47

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

48

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
- Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
- communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

49

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

50

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

51

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

52

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

53

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

54

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

55

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

56

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

57

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
? Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
? Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
? Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with

58

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

59
60

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

61

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

62

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

63

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

64

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

65

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

66

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

67

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

68

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
- Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
- Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
- Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with stakeholders.
- Time allocation for the procurement of consultants: The average time involved in
the engagement of a consultant under the project was around seven months. For new
projects, sufficient time should be reflected in the workplan in anticipation of the
potential delays in the procurement of consultants.
- Communication strategies, knowledge management and capacity building:
Communications, knowledge transfer, and capacity building are important elements
of all projects. For the Sabah MFL project, very little attention was paid to these
aspects, and weaknesses resulted because of this. For new projects, it is
recommended that adequate attention be paid at the outset to incorporating strong
programs for communications, knowledge management, and capacity building.

69

7. Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives. While
not much emphasis was placed on linkage with other related initiatives during project design
and implementation, there is still opportunity to apply lessons learned from the project (as
presented in this TE) and to link these with ongoing or new initiatives. Doing so would provide
possible opportunities for gaining useful insights about viable mechanisms for strengthened
conservation of biodiversity, building capacity, and knowledge-sharing. Among the initiatives
that might derive benefits from the lessons of the Sabah MFL project are: the activities of the
Sabah Biodiversity Council; activities associated with implementation of the Sabah
Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, the proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; and the proposed
listing of the DaMaI (Danum-Maliau-Imbak) area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lessons
from the project will inform the design and choice of policy and management decisionmaking

70

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

71

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
? Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
? communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and

- means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

72

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

73

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

74

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

75

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

76

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

77

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

78

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

79

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

80

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
? Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
? Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
? Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with

81

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

82
83

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves.

84

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
? Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
? Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
? Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
? Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

85

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
? Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
? Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
? The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

86

1. Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in  the project area. One of the major “success stories” of the project was the linkage of three
well-known but previously isolated conservation areas, through reclassification of adjacent lands within the project area, as protected Class 1 Forest Reserve. A number of very
promising opportunities for replication and expansion of connectivity areas within the multiuse forest landscape of Sabah (and beyond) have been identified (e.g. Danum Valley –
Ulu Kalumpang – Tawau Hills Park; Crocker Range – Nuluhon Trusmadi forest, SWD sites – Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulamba FR-Tabin WR, proposed ecological corridors,
habitat restoration sites and living landscapes initiatives under WWF-Malaysia). It is recommended that relevant partners and actors coordinate their efforts (i.e., collaborative
discussion, planning, on-site surveys and research) to ensure that the objective of reestablishing ecological connectivity across a larger area within the multiple use forest
landscape, is realized to the greatest extent (and as rapidly as) possible.

87

2. Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing
application and dissemination. The project had the opportunity to undertake cutting edge
science, and had access to both international and local experts through the considerable
investment that was made in targeted research. Key primary data were established to
demonstrate the global significance of the project site and adjacent conservation areas.
However, the project failed to take steps to ensure that local counterparts responsible for
forest land management fully understood the data, and the methods for applying the data for
management decision-making and problem-solving.
In order to ensure that data are applied, utilized, and disseminated to the greatest extent
possible, thus maximizing the benefits that might result from targeted research efforts, it is
recommended that, for future research-based initiatives:
? Local counterpart researchers and managers work closely with external specialists to
design research programs, and to gather data;
- Local counterpart researchers and managers receive in-depth training to ensure that
they are competent in the management and application of new systems and so that
they fully understand how to apply the data that have been gathered;
-communication materials are developed to highlight key research findings, so that
these can be shared with policy- and decision-makers, potential funders and
collaborators, and the general public; and means are explored to ensure that significant research findings are considered in
State- and national-level policy-making (e.g., for 12th Malaysia Plan, statewide HCV
Forest Plan, statewide Forest Management Plan, revision of the Sabah Biodiversity
Strategy) and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR).

88

3. Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine
plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands. In October 2018, the Sabah Chief
Minister agreed with the federal government’s stance on not allowing any future plantation
development, including oil palm plantations, in permanent forest reserves in Sabah. Previous
agricultural or degraded lands can be utilized for plantations. Respect for the prohibition is
expected to be upheld, in line with the Sabah Forest Policy 2018 mission – towards the
realization of sustainable forest management. To ensure that this position is maintained, it is
recommended that advocacy be undertaken, to uphold the ban on oil palm plantation
development in permanent forest reserves. 

89

4. Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multipleuse
forest landscapes. It is recommended that the following steps be taken to promote
greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts:
- Foster networking among the plantation community: (e.g. forest plantation and
mosaic planting enterprises) to promote mutual benefits of planters and corporations, as
well as the development of the plantation industry in Sabah, through associations or
working groups (e.g., Borneo Forestry Cooperative)
- Conduct relevant training and capacity building: this could include training provided
by qualified forestry experts (e.g., academicians, or SFD personnel), cross-training site
visits, etc.
- Promote Information sharing: Explore the potential and usefulness of creating a shared
database for wildlife monitoring to guide management and monitoring decisions and
identify support needed (at forest plantation sites).
- Strategy and related future projects (e.g. FOLUR). 

90

5. Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms
for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State. In the Sabah MFL project, significant
advancements were made in a number of areas with respect to promoting sustainable
financing. These included demonstration of a mechanism for payment for ecosystem
services (PES), and progress toward drafting an enactment for an environmental
conservation fee, to be adopted by the State government. To ensure the continuity of
progress made under the project, the following actions are recommended:
- Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance as a
platform to share experiences, and guide, steer and develop state capacity on
conservation finance mechanisms (including PES and bio-offsets on NNL/NG);
- Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the
existing system for collection of departure tax (introduced 1st September 2019) to
simplify the transaction process and to minimize inconvenience to visitors;
- The management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund is a subject that
requires further clarification. It is recommended to consider the following factors: best
practices for establishing and operating an independent Conservation Trust Fund;32
potential for working towards a long term endowment goal for the trust fund; and
feasibility for the Trust Fund to accept contributions from other earmarked
environmental funds (e.g. Ecological Fiscal Transfer Funds from the Federal
Government, being developed under the 12th Malaysia Plan, REDD+, Biodiversity
Offset funds, etc.);

- Adopt a clear definition on sustainable finance mechanisms (e.g. CBD definition). The
concept of sustainable finance is not limited only to revenue generation, but also
includes other elements (e.g., diversification of revenue sources and portfolio; cost
savings and cost sharing approaches; avoided future expenditures approaches;
improving PA financial planning; meeting financial gaps based on a strategic
document; and identification of ways to enhance revenue retention and reinvestment
into PA management. Before deciding upon a specific mechanism to develop for
sustainable financing, a useful approach would be to conduct a rapid pre-feasibility
assessment to analyze the available options, in terms of potential financial returns,
administrative and transaction costs, political and social acceptability and
environmental impacts;
-  Tap into the BIOFIN catalogue of finance solutions to explore potential sustainable
finance mechanisms (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/about-finance-solutionscatalogue);
- Identify and build the capacity of potential SFD personnel to work on sustainable
finance mechanisms that are relevant to forest management.

91

6. Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and
management functions. Several areas of weakness were noted throughout various stages
of the project cycle, from project design to project evaluation. These flaws could be corrected
in future projects if appropriate preventive measures are applied. It is recommended that the
following best practices be adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project
management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation:
- Usage of TE reports: From the analysis done for this TE, there was no clear evidence
to show that, for the conceptualization and design of the project, the findings of TEs
from other related projects had been taken into account. Considerable time, effort and
resources are spent in preparing TEs. Among the most useful outputs of the TE are
the lessons learned and recommendations, both of which are intended to be used to
suggest viable design options and to help avoid pitfalls when formulating new projects.
In order to ensure that TEs are used for this purpose, it is recommended that a specific
requirement for review of relevant TEs be included in the TOR for specialists tasked
to prepare GEF project documents.
- Socialization period at project start-up: It is recommended that a “socialization
period” be incorporated into the structuring of the project workplan and timeframe. The
socialization period would represent a period of time (perhaps 6 months to 1 year)
additional to the time allocated for implementation of project activities. The purpose of
following such a format would be to allow adequate time for project start-up functions
including contracting of project manager and other project staff, and to enable project
personnel to receive training on all necessary administrative and financial processes
needed to ensure efficient and smooth project start-up. In addition, the socialization
period would enable the incorporation of lessons from previous projects. Functions to
be carried out during socialization would be defined in a “standard operating
procedure” (SOP) guidance document to be prepared for this purpose.
- Project performance canvas: It is recommended that a “project performance
canvas” be developed for all future projects. The SRF for the Sabah MFL project is
presented over 25 pages in the project inception report, making it very difficult to use
as a project roadmap and to capture an overview of the project at a glance. By
contrast, the project performance canvas would be an abridged version of the SRF,
that incorporates the project objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators, and targets in
a one- to two-page document (similar to the business model canvas concept). The
simplified SRF would be easy to follow and to use as a handy reference, throughout
the implementation of the project. It could be referred to frequently as a cross-check
reference for project planning, reporting, monitoring and communications with stakeholders.
- Time allocation for the procurement of consultants: The average time involved in
the engagement of a consultant under the project was around seven months. For new
projects, sufficient time should be reflected in the workplan in anticipation of the
potential delays in the procurement of consultants.
- Communication strategies, knowledge management and capacity building:
Communications, knowledge transfer, and capacity building are important elements
of all projects. For the Sabah MFL project, very little attention was paid to these
aspects, and weaknesses resulted because of this. For new projects, it is
recommended that adequate attention be paid at the outset to incorporating strong
programs for communications, knowledge management, and capacity building.

92

7. Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives. While
not much emphasis was placed on linkage with other related initiatives during project design
and implementation, there is still opportunity to apply lessons learned from the project (as
presented in this TE) and to link these with ongoing or new initiatives. Doing so would provide
possible opportunities for gaining useful insights about viable mechanisms for strengthened
conservation of biodiversity, building capacity, and knowledge-sharing. Among the initiatives
that might derive benefits from the lessons of the Sabah MFL project are: the activities of the
Sabah Biodiversity Council; activities associated with implementation of the Sabah
Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, the proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; and the proposed
listing of the DaMaI (Danum-Maliau-Imbak) area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lessons
from the project will inform the design and choice of policy and management decisionmaking

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