Watersheds & Communities

Co-creating Living Landscapes: Water Conservation Areas in the Telupid Forest Complex


The aim of this project is to transform the Telupid Forest Complex (TFC) into a ‘Living Landscape’ that strengthens ecosystem, species and cultural resilience in the face of climate warming and economic stressors.


FS is working to achieve this goal by exploring several areas of collaboration, including:

  • Government-community partnerships for forest restoration in areas affected by fires and illegal forest clearance with the intent of linking together the region’s disparate forest reserves and making agricultural regions more wildlife-friendly.

  • Government-Community partnerships for the gazettement and management of Water Conservation Areas in the TFC, as a means of protecting biodiversity and improving forest connectivity,

  • Government - community partnerships to develop unique eco-tourism products in the TFC Area. The region is blessed with many potential attractions, and many communities in the area have expressed the desire to engage in eco- tourism as a source of livelihood.

  • RSPO-Civil Society-oil palm smallholder collaboration to assist TFC smallholders in becoming RSPO certified.

  • Industry-Civil Society partnerships to develop best practice protocols for production of palm oil in the TFC area in order to preserve its watershed and potential eco-tourism assets. .



The Telupid Forest Complex, with its fragmented forest reserves, expanding palm oil sector and rapid rates of population growth can be seen as a microcosm of Sabah as a whole. The TFC has been identified as a priority area by the Heart of Borneo initiative and has also been flagged by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and Sabah Forestry Department as a critical FS project area due in part to its unique and abundant biodiversity. This diverse and fragmented landscape is an ideal area to test green economy solutions that can serve as a model for similar efforts at both state-wide and regional levels.