Mount Kinabalu (4095 m) in the East Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the mountains of New Guinea, as well as the most biodiverse place on earth for its size with an unparalleled ecology with many endemic species. Scientific research undertaken over the last 160 years has recorded over 5500 plant species comprising over 200 plant families in an area roughly 30×40 km in size, making it truly a ‘pinnacle of biodiversity’.
Mount Kinabalu also has the richest orchid flora in the world. Half of all Borneo’s birds, mammals, reptilian species and amphibian species including many rare and endangered species occur on Mount Kinabalu; these include approximately 90 species of lowland mammals and 22 montane mammal species and 326 bird species. The Park was established in 1964, and includes Mount Kinabalu, and the little-known Mount Tambuyukon (2579 m), the highest ultramafic mountain in Asia. As a World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park is also the most important tourism ‘hotspot’ in Sabah with close to 500,000 visitors annually, of whom about 10% make it to the highest point in Borneo, a tough 2-day climb.
The people of Sabah possesses on this famous mountain of what I believe is the most richest and most remarkable assemblage of plants in the world. There is no other place in the world that supplies in so short a journey such a stupendous transect of plant-life … I conclude that, if ever there was a nexus of natural phenomena demanding biological research, it is around Kinabalu.
Professor John Corner
Royal Society Expeditions 1961 and 1964