Suspension bridge in the Danum Valley © Sabah Tourism
It is a bitter irony that one of the greatest ‘protected areas’ of Sabah, the Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA), exists alongside some of the most severe overlogging. The 438km² reserve is promoted as ‘the largest remaining area of undisturbed virgin lowland rainforest in Malaysia’, which has been set aside for research and education. However, as you drive into the ‘untouched’ area you will undoubtedly come across well-laden log trucks on the road, which can be upsetting. As Sabah Tourism declare candidly ‘a vast timber concession area borders all around Danum Valley’. The road into the reserve passes through logged and regenerating forest areas – the DVCA is touched on every side by 3–100km of commercial forest, and beyond are oil palm plantations. Guides here express their heartbreak at what is happening, and what has already happened. Together with the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley is part of the huge 10,000km² timber concession of Yayasan Sabah (the Sabah Foundation). Since the 1980s, it has been a Class 1 Protected Forest Reserve and part of the foundation’s long-term Forest Management Plan, to remain unlogged for the purpose of wildlife conservation, education and research.