Technical Visit to the World’s First Nickel Botanical Garden in Sabah
We are glad to share on our recent ‘expedition’ led by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Innovation, and Talent Development (MEITD), Tuan Haji Azmi bin Haji Bujang on 3 May 2023, to the World’s First Nickel Botanical Garden in Sabah.
The Monggis Sub-Station in Ranau, is the site of a genetic reservoir of rare nickel hyperaccumulator plant species in Sabah that have a potential for agromining. It is approximately 3½ hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu town, and best known among the mountaineers as a starting point for climbing Mount Tambuyukon, the third highest mountain in Malaysia. The garden is an impressive result of a close collaboration between French researchers and Malaysian Institution.
We were greeted by TTS’s Assistant Director (Research and Education), Mr Fred Tuh Yit Fuh and his team did a tour-brief through this unique garden. One of the most promising species planted here is Phyllantus rufuschaneyi, which is endemic to Sabah and restricted to ultramafic substrates. Sabah has the largest surface expressions of ultramafic rock at 4.6% of the State total landmass with the most species-rich flora occupying these outcrops, in the world.
TTS’s Research Assistant, Mr Sukarbin Sumail explained that the plant could absorb high concentration of nickel from the soil to about 3% of its biomass. The process of using plants to extract metals from the soil has the potential to be more environmentally friendly as well as a sustainable alternative to clean up the environment.
A demonstration was done to showcase the presence of nickel in the plants using a specialised filter paper impregnated with dimethylglyoxime (DMG). The fresh leaf was crushed and placed onto a wet filter paper and the filter paper will show smudges of pink color after 20-30 seconds. The pink colour indicates the presence of nickel in P. Rufuschaneyi but not in the control.
We are honoured that the team from TTS and Econick Sabah Sdn Bhd organised a tree planting session for us where we planted the Xylosma luzonensis tree – a species that is part of the hyperaccumulator family in the Nickel Botanical Garden.
After Ranau, we visited Kinabalu National Park HQ. We were briefed on the roles and functions of Sabah Parks Enactment and the conservation management of the Kinabalu National Park by Assistant Manager, Mr Januarius Shaftang. We also had a short visit to the Geopark Project Gallery led by Assistant Director, Mr Justinus Guntabid. The park is rich in geological formation, flora and fauna and are inhabited by indigenous communities.
Thank you, SaBC, Econick Sabah Sdn. Bhd. and TTS, for providing us with such an enriching experience!