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PLACES OF INTEREST IN TAWAU > Danum Valley Field Centre

Danum Valley Field Centre


Danum Valley Field Centre provides facilities for research, education and wilderness recreation in one of Sabah's last strongholds of undisturbed lowland rainforest, the 438 sq km Danum Valley Conservation Area.

Sited beside the Segama River, which forms the boundary of the Conservation Area, the Centre is located 81 km west of La had Datu and several km from any other habitation, a truly remote setting. Research efforts have revealed a tremendous variety of plants and a full range of Sabah's lowland fauna, including such rare and endangered species as the Sumatran rhino, banteng (tembadau), Asian elephant, clouded leopard, orang utan and proboscis monkey. Bird life is equally varied with over 300 species recorded to date in the area.

The Field Centre is run by the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah Group) under the aegis of a Management Committee which includes the Sabah Forestry Department, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and several other agencies with interests in forest research and conservation.

More about Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah Group)

Danum Valley Conservation Area
Danum Valley Conservation Area


Languages Spoken:
Bahasa Malaysia

The Centre is run principally for use by scientists and participants in organized courses and seminars. However, other visitors interested in nature recreation are welcome, especially those participating in environmental education programmes.

Visitors must book their visit to the Field Centre either at the Research & Development Division, Yayasan Sabah Group, Tun Mustapha Tower, Kota Kinabalu or through the Regional Office in Lahad Datu. On arrival at the Field Centre, visitors must register at the Reception, Information & Shop Building.

Accommodation is available in two VIP rooms, seven-bedroom and four-bedroom rest houses and two 48-bed hostel blocks. The VIP rooms and rest house rooms have two or three beds each and attached bathrooms. Bedding and towels are provided. A nearby campground is also available with water and electricity, for self catering visitors.

Guests at the VIP rooms, rest houses and hostel are eligible to order meals from the Centre's kitchen. Meals are served at approximately the following times:-

Breakfast : 7.00am - 8.00am

Lunch : 12.00 noon - 1.00pm

Dinner : 7.15pm - 8.00pm
Packed lunches can be provided if ordered one day in advance. Coffee and tea are available free of charge in the dining hall area for residents paying full board only. Drinking water is available in the dining area free of charge.

The nearest town to Danum Valley Field Centre is Lahad Datu on the south east coast of Sabah, which is served daily by Malaysia Airlines. The 81 km drive from Lahad Datu to Danum Valley Field Centre takes about two hours, the first 15 km of which are along the main Lahad Datu to Tawau highway and the remainder on a well-maintained Yayasan Sabah Group logging road. Main Line West.

If you drive your own vehicle, you must first obtain a gate pass from the Lahad Datu office. The pass must be produced at the checkpoint at KM 5.5 on the Main Line West Logging road. Follow this road to a major junction at KM 56.5 where there is a sign-posted left turn to the Field Centre 10 km onwards. Be warned that 70-ton logging trucks use the road, so drive slowly and carefully.

On arrival at Danum Valley Field Centre, all visitors must register in the Reception, Information & Shop Building.

Please note that firearms and hunting are absolutely forbidden anywhere in Danum Valley Conservation Area or Yayasan Sabah Concession Area.


Danum Valley Field Centre has a wide range of facilities besides visitor accommodation, such as scientists' quarters, laboratories, library, computer room (with 'broadband' services), conference room, environmental education building with classroom, theatre and display areas, multi purpose hall, badminton and basketball courts, public telephone, research plots and over 50 kilometers of marked trails, including a self-guided nature trail. Electricity is available from 7.30 am-11.00pm.

Reduced Impact Logging (RIL)

The Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) Project is a joint project between Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd and New England Power (NEP) of USA. The first phase of the project that commenced in 1992 covered 450 ha of Ulu Segama Commercial Forest Reserve near Danum Valley.

The objective of the RIL Project is to reduce the damage caused by logging to the soil surface and residual trees by 50% in comparison to conventional logging methods. This objective is achieved through a series of appropriate preoperational planning and harvesting activities as stated in the RIL Guidelines.


The INFAPRO Project is a collaborative project between Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd and the Forests Absorbing Carbon Dioxide Emissions (FACE) Foundation of the Netherlands. It was established in 1992 to promote the rehabilitation of forests to absorb CO; from the atmosphere.

The project involves large-scale enrichment planting of dipterocarps in logged over rain forest, as well as tending of naturally regenerating dipterocarp seedlings, other commercial timber species and forest fruit trees. The aim of the project is to rehabilitate 25,000 hectares of logged-over forest in Sabah over 25 years, by enrichment planting using indigenous tree species and liberation of natural regeneration.


Danum Valley Conservation Area is a Class I Protection Forest Reserve and as such cannot be logged. The surrounding forests are exceptionally well stocked with trees of the Dipterocarpaceae family, which are valued for the high quality of their timber. Since the forests face unprecedented pressure from human activity, such as conversion to other land use and timber harvesting, achieving a balance between economic exploitation and ecological preservation is a major concern. To prevent the forest disappearing altogether, sustainable management of the commercial forests surrounding Danum Valley has been introduced, such as through the Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) Project and the INFAPRO Project.


Conservation and good forest management require support from the general public. Yayasan Sabah Group together with the Sabah Education Department launched the Sabah Nature Club in October 1988 as a membership organization for school children. Hundreds of local students have since participated in various exciting programmes carried out at the Field Centre. In 1996, a Nature Discovery Centre was completed, providing interactive environmental education activities for alt visitors, including school children. Amongst the wide range of other activities available are orienteering, blindfold walk, nature songs, debates, role play, quiz, riddles, environmental games and training in bird-watching techniques.

The environmental education programmes at the Centre are not only for Malaysians but also for overseas participants. Since 1998, students from Japan have held their Borneo Jungle School in Danum Valley Field Centre and have made it a yearly activity. Since environmental education is to enhance public awareness about conservation and the environment, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd. initiated a support system by donating the SHELL Nature Interpretation and Environmental Education Building. The company also initiated a programme for special children at the Centre in 2000, co-organized by the Sabah Special Olympics and Yayasan Sabah Group.


There are lots of outdoor and indoor activities that visitors can do at the Field Centre. Among the popular outdoor activities are guided forest trekking, bird watching, night drives, guided night walks, sunrise/sunset watch, tree platform climbing and trips to INFAPRO and Borneo Rainforest Lodge. For those who like indoor activities, we have the Nature Discovery Centre, slide/video shows, talks by scientists, interpretive displays and environmental education activities.


A long-term research programme was initiated in 1984 as a collaborative venture between the Danum Valley Management Committee and The Royal Society, London.

The main aims of the programme are;

1. To gain scientific understanding of the ecological processes that maintain tropical rainforest.

2. To provide training opportunities for Malaysians in ecology, forestry and related sciences.

3. To assess the impact of logging and provide information which may contribute to improve forest management.
The Centre is open to both international and local researchers, who must first apply in writing to the Secretariat of the Danum Valley Management Committee. Some 300 studies have been completed or are in progress, many of them collaborative between Malaysian and overseas scientists. Major studies have focused on natural forest dynamics, regeneration within artificial gaps, nutrient cycling and the effect of logging on water quality and vertebrate populations. Research facilities include established research plots in the forest, a canopy observation tower and platforms and access to logged forest of known history which allows comparative research between primary and secondary forests.



The Centre is capable of hosting courses and seminars for up to 100 participants. Groups have included local government and non-government agencies and various overseas organizations. Although particularly suited to the needs of foresters and biologists, group of all kinds will appreciate the peaceful, natural surroundings.

Danum Valley Field Centre is also an ideal location for tertiary education, catering for industrial placements and tropical field trips by local and foreign undergraduate and post-graduate students.



The forests in and around Danum Valley Conservation Area are an ideal location for nature and adventure tourism, with jungle trekking, wildlife photography and bird watching particularly popular, and many interesting places and rich and diverse fauna and flora for visitors to discover.


Purut Waterfall

One of the spectacular waterfalls found in Danum Valley Conservation Area is Purut Waterfall situated on the way to Mt. Danum. This waterfall is about 20m in height with seven, tiered pools. It takes about 4 hours of jungle trekking from the Field Centre to reach the waterfall and visitors can either choose to camp overnight or make a day trip.


Tembaling Waterfall

Tembaling Waterfall is the nearest waterfall to the Field Centre and takes about 1 to 2 hours walk to reach along a forest trail, where one can witness Danum's abundant flora and fauna.


Burial Caves

Burial caves have a special place in the myths and legends of the Orang Sungai or 'river people' of Borneo. They believe in combining the powerful spirits of hills and water. In Danum Valley, three burial sites have been discovered, two near the Field Centre and one below the cliff overlooking Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Jars such as those found near the Centre were often used as secondary burial places for bones after a body has decomposed. A radiocarbon analysis of a child's femur found in a jar near Borneo Rainforest Lodge estimated a date of around A.D. 1670 and a coffin made of Belian (Bornean iron wood) estimated a date around A.D.1210.

Mt. Danum, at 1,093m, is the highest peak in Danum valley Conservation Area. Trekkers preferring a leisurely hike can make a 3 days 2 nights round trip. However, hard core trekkers take only about 4 hours to reach Mt. Danum. A major international sports event that took place in Danum Valley, the Eco-Challenge 2000, proved this feat was possible.

Other interesting places are Rafflesia Hill where Rafflesias are found, Rhino Pool where the elusive Sumatran rhinoceros was once sighted and Mt. Nicola, another peak within the Conservation Area. Visitors must hire a guide from the Centre whenever they go for jungle trekking to avoid getting lost in the forest.

Forest Flora

The forest around Danum Valley Field Centre is dominated by dipterocarp trees, with the canopy reaching a height of over 70 meters in places. Some 90% of the Conservation Area is classified as lowland dipterocarp forest with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly found on Mt. Danum in the heart of the Conservation Area. Interestingly, there are very few large palms in Danum Valley.

Forest Fauna

This forest is alive with animals if you take time to look closely. The rare Wallace's flying frog, soft shelled turtles, skinks, vipers, more than 40 species of fishes and a profusion of butterflies, such as the spectacular Rajah Brooke, can be seen. More than 120 mammals including 10 species of primates are found here. This area is an important habitat for orang utan and, due in part to minimal hunting pressure, is particularly rich in other large mammals including the Asian elephant, Banteng, Malayan sun bear, clouded leopard, bearded pig and 5 species of deer. It also provides one of the last refuges in Sabah for the critically endangered Sumatran rhino. Over 300 species of bird have been recorded including Bulwer's pheasant, 7 species of pitta, the Borneo Bristlehead and all 8 species of hornbill found in Borneo.


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