The 27-hectare ICSC project, implemented under Phase Two of the Yayasan Sabah-Petronas Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership near the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) near Ulu Kinabatangan, is scheduled for completion in 2016.
It would house an office complex, laboratories, research stations, education complex and other related facilities.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman who launched the ceremony said the State Government is always committed and very proactive in preserving the natural resources of Sabah. Also present was Yayasan Sabah Director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad.
"Regardless of whether it is a small or large scale project, it is our priority, particularly through Yayasan Sabah, to continue to ensure that this valuable ecology is managed efficiently and effectively," he said.
He said, however, that environment preservation is not easy as it demands high expertise, experience, commitment and funds.
"Thus, we are very appreciative of Petronas for the funding of RM77 million for the development of the ICSC in collaboration with Yayasan Sabah," he said.
Musa, who is also Yayasan Sabah Board of Trustees Chairman, said the State Government welcomes the setting up of such study center, adding that the collaboration between Yayasan Sabah and Petronas via ICSC is clear proof of the high commitment towards environment preservation efforts.
"At the same time, it also enables us to share information on the best measures towards development and success without polluting or destroying the environment.
"On the long term, ICSC will produce more scientists and local experts who are capable of creating the best formula to prevent extinction of the fauna and flora," he said, urging every quarter to support the research, training and studies in Imbak Canyon to ensure the facilities in ICSC are fully benefited from.
Musa also expressed confidence on ICSC being an excellent center for research, training and studies, similar to Danum Valley, which is famous throughout the world.
"I hope the Malaysia Science Academy will be involved for a long term in Imbak Canyon similar to how The Royal Society, United Kingdom assisted in developing the research, training and studies at Danum Valley 30 years ago until now," he said.
Meanwhile, Sapawi added that the ICSC would strengthen the position of ICCA as a centre of learning in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as for gene bank conservation and exploration for pharmaceutical and biotechnology potentials.
Petronas President and Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas who also attended the ceremony said that the partnership between Yayasan Sabah and Petronas represents both organisations' solemn commitment towards preserving pristine ecology for the benefit of present and future generations.
Under Phase 1, Petronas contributed RM6 million in 2010 to support Yayasan Sabah's activities in conserving Imbak Canyon for three years.
The activities include environmental education, community outreach, public awareness, research, ethno-forestry study and documentation, capacity building, formulation of the ICCA management plan and initial works toward the construction of ICSC.
With the latest funding, Petronas has committed a total of RM83 million towards conserving the Imbak Canyon.
In addition, the fund was also used for the construction of the Imbak Canyon Information Centre and a jetty, located in Kg. Imbak, as well as establishment of Porters and Guides Association.
The 30,000 hectare ICCA is a pristine rainforest located deep in the heart of Sabah and it is one of the four conservation areas managed by Yayasan Sabah. The other conservation areas are the Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Silam Coast.
In 2003, Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated ICCA as a conservation area for research, education, training and recreational. In 2009, it was formally given legal protection as a Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve by the State Government.