The M&E visit is one of the important activities of the ASRF because it provides an opportunity for the Program Management Office (PMO) to meet the project implementers, observe the project sites, and to interact with stakeholders.
The visit was conducted for the ASRF-Malaysia project Conservation and Consumption Goods & Nature-based Recreation: A Community-based Ecotourism Project in Malaysia, advocated by the Biodiversity and Forestry Management Division (BFMD) of the Ministry of Water, Land, and Natural Resources (KATS). It is currently being implemented by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM). The project aims to create financial incentives for strengthening local community involvement in biodiversity conservation.
The team composed of Mr. Murkriham Abdullah, Research Officer, FRIM; Roslinawani Hashim, Assistant Secretary, Kamarul Ikram Abdul Halim, Assistant Secretary, Intan Nurul Azlina Bt. Ahmad Kamil, Principal Assistant Secretary, Dr. Hj Mohd Yussuf Al Fahmey Bin Abdul Rahim, Division Deputy Secretary, BFMD, KATS; and Ms. Amy Lecciones and Mr. Xyrus Capiña, ASRF Regional Program Coordinator and Project Associate, respectively, of SEARCA, participated in the M&E visit. FRIM's Research Officer, Dr. Huda Farhana Binti Mohamad Muslim presented the project accomplishments to date, which include the pre-testing of a Willingness-to-Pay (WTP) questionnaire and GPS mapping. FRIM also reported the establishment of a management committee, officially named Tampik Janda Baik Eco-Forest (TJBEF). The TJBEF is responsible for the implementation of the ecotourism-related activities of the project. The committee will also work with local communities in environment conservation programs.
The team also visited the project site in Ulu Tampik, Lentang Forest Reserve, Bentong, Pahang. Mrs. Nazlin Ibrahim, the Assistant Treasurer of TJBEF shared the participation of the local community and their current ecotourism activities such as trekking, agri-tourism, traditional food preparation, handicraft making, among others. Through the FRIM and other government agencies, the TJBEF will develop an eco-tour package, train potential tour guides, and promote the ecotourism activities for the Ulu Tampik Waterfalls. The committee will also craft and implement a user-permit system to ensure environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.
SEARCA-ASRF-PMO recommended to link their activities with the national government's eco-tourism plan. Future studies such as assessing the carrying capacities of tourism sites should also be put forward. The lessons and recommendations gained from the M&E visit are relevant to achieving the objectives of the ASRF Sustainability Plan. (Xyrus Godfrey B. Capiña)