Kinabalu Park

State of Sabah
N6 15 0 E116 30 0
Date of Inscription: 2000
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Property : 75,370 ha
Ref: 1012
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Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.

Located in the State of Sabah, Malaysia, on the northern end of the island of Borneo, Kinabalu Park World Heritage property covers 75,370 ha. Dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea, it holds a distinctive position for the biota of Southeast Asia.  Geologically, Kinabalu Park is a granite intrusion formed 15 million years ago and thrust upward one million years ago by tectonic movements and shaped by forces that continue to define its landscape. Despite its geological youth it is exceptionally high in species with living relics of natural vegetation remaining, over 93% of the Park area.

The altitudinal range of the property, 152m – 4,095m, presents a wide array of habitats from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest (35% of the park) to tropical montane forest (37%), and sub-alpine forest and scrub at the highest elevations. Ultramafic (serpentine) rocks cover about 16% of the park and have vegetation specific to this substrate. The property has been identified as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia; it contains representatives from at least half of all Borneo’s plant species and is exceptionally rich in species with elements from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, and pan tropical floras. With records of half of all Borneo’s birds, mammals and amphibian species and two-thirds of all Bornean reptiles the property is both species-rich and an important centre for endemism.

Criterion (ix): Kinabalu Park has an exceptional array of naturally functioning ecosystems. A number of processes actively provide ideal conditions for the diverse biota, high endemism and rapid evolutionary rates. Several factors combine to influence these processes; (1) the great altitudinal and climatic gradient from tropical forest to alpine conditions; (2) steeply dissected topography causing effective geographical isolation over short distances; (3) the diverse geology with many localised edaphic conditions, particularly the ultramafic substrates; (4) the frequent climate oscillations influenced by El Niño events; and (5) geological history of the Malay archipelago and proximity to the much older Crocker Range.

Criterion (x): Floristically species-rich and identified as a globally important Centre of Plant Endemism, Kinabalu Park contains an estimated 5,000-6,000 vascular plant species including representatives from more than half the families of all flowering plants. The presence of 1,000 orchid species, 78 species of Ficus, and 60 species of ferns is indicative of the botanical richness of the property. The variety of Kinabalu’s habitats includes six vegetation zones, ranging from lowland rainforest to alpine scrub at 4,095m. Faunal diversity is also high and the property is an important centre for endemism. The majority of Borneo’s mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates (many threatened and vulnerable) are known to occur in the park including; 90 species of lowland mammal, 22 mammal species in the montane zone and 326 bird species.

Suggested Bases:

Kota Kinabalu. The capital of the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, this Malaysian city is a growing resort destination due to its proximity to tropical islands, sandy beaches, lush rainforest and Mount Kinabalu. Constantly referred to as KK, it is on the west coast of Sabah within the West Coast Division. KK is one of the smallest districts in Sabah but has the largest population and is the largest city in the state. KK lies by the coast overlooking the South China Sea on a narrow flatland and occasional hills bordered by the Crocker Range which hosts Mount Kinabalu. Hence the urban sprawl is concentrated along the coast towards the north and south of the city. Kota Kinabalu is a growing city of around 500,000 inhabitants. Economic growth has resulted in urbanisation of the city reaching adjacent districts of Penampang and Putatan with a total population of almost 800,000. Its growth and importance is due to being the administrative capital, a major transportation hub, growing port, manufacturing hub, growing tourism and because it is the major gateway into Sabah and East Malaysia [read more].

Penampang (Malay: Pekan Penampang) is the capital of the Penampang District in the West Coast Division of Sabah, Malaysia. Its population was estimated to be around 93,616 in 2010, with ethnic Kadazan as the majority. The town has virtually become a suburb of Kota Kinabalu and considered as part of Greater Kota Kinabalu area. The name Penampang came from an old village within the district. The village’s name in turn originates from a Kadazan word pampang meaning a big rock. This is because huge rocks were easily found within the vicinity of the village a long time ago. The name in contemporary usage refers to the district, with the town of Donggongon as the main town within the district of Penampang. The name Donggongon originates from Kadazan word tundo’ongon which means a ‘shelter’ or a ‘resting area’, referring to its historical role as a stop-over for people from the interior who journeyed down the coast to trade [read more].

Sandakan is a city of almost 400,000 people in Sabah, Borneo. It is the gateway to Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. Sandakan was the capital of British North Borneo until 1946. The town prospered in the early days due to its port with visiting traders from around the world. Sandakan is an important town to Australian and British World War II history with the infamous Death Marches commencing here in 1945 and ending in Ranau. After the war, the capital was moved to Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu). “Sandakan” is derived from the Suluk word “sanda”, meaning to pawn, and “kan” being the suffix. So “Sandakan” means the place that was pawned. Who pawned it, and to whom, remains a mystery. Sandakan has always been a predominantly Chinese town. Unlike most other parts of Sabah, the main Chinese dialect in use among Sandakan’s Chinese is Cantonese. However, the most widely spoken Chinese dialect in Sabah, Hakka, is also widely spoken and understood, as is Mandarin [read more].