The seeds of The RIMBA Project (RIMBA) started in late 2013 when UMCares (then the University of Malaya’s Environmental Secretariat) needed a champion for UM’s lush biodiversity, unique in the midst of the urban sprawl known as the Klang Valley. Urban secondary rainforests provide a habitat for wildlife, help generate a cooler environment, and even assist in mitigating flash floods and serving as water reserves. They indicate what is possible for forest regeneration and repair even within built environments like the city.
RIMBA is now a Living Lab jointly funded by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development) with a mission to protect and promote UM’s biodiversity—to conserve the urban biodiversity found on campus, and to raise awareness of UM’s rich biodiversity so that we do not take it for granted.
The dream is to make the UM a walk-in educational garden, an urban nature park and biodiversity hub, where plants and animals coexist harmoniously with humans.
In collaboration with UM’s Department of Development and Estate Maintenance (JPPHB), RIMBA is helping to introduce ecologically sound principles in campus development: improving green cover by planting diverse rainforest trees for habitat regeneration; raising seedlings of native trees for sustainable long-term campus landscaping; and conserving the various patches of forested land across campus. Currently, forested land accounts for 100 hectares of UM's 360 hectares, 60 hectares of which lies within the Rimba Ilmu botanic garden.
For both the campus community and the general public, RIMBA regularly organises events to highlight the range of biodiversity on campus and develop naturalist skills:
Past key projects include Biodiversity Week, a weeklong festival of nature-related activities, and The Section 12 Project, a biodiversity survey in a residential area due for redevelopment.
Based in UM’s Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, RIMBA is supported by JPPHB and the Sustainability Science Research Cluster (SuSci), with many opportunities for volunteer participation. Many of RIMBA’s volunteers are now applying RIMBA’s approach to conservation in their own residential colleges through various projects and initiatives.
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