Malaysia, Japan Collaborates in Mangrove Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management

Sunway University, a leading not-for-profit private University in Malaysia entered an international research collaboration with two Japanese tech companies (Aerosense Inc. and Funlead Corp.) and two Malaysian public organizations, namely Sarawak Forest Corporation and the University of Technology Sarawak. This research project was funded by both Sunway University and the Asia- Pacific Telecommunity (APT).

Malaysia is one of the largest mangroves holding countries in the World, with Sarawak having the second-largest coverage in Malaysia. The mangrove forest has been supplying an important ecological, social, and economic ecosystem. At the same time, the mangrove forest is inevitable from threats such as climate changes, various land use, and human activities. Therefore, evidence-based, systematic mangrove conservatory strategies are necessary to promote long-term ecological and economical resilience.

As part of its sustainability journey and mission toward planetary health, this collaborative research aims to resuscitate the mangrove forest in Sarawak through the adoption of drone tech and artificial intelligence. This comes with real-time plant health monitoring, as well as proactively protecting the mangrove forest through artisanal fisheries surveillance.  This research project is led by Prof. Yap Kian Meng, who is also the Head of Sunway University’s Research Centre for Human-Machine Collaboration (HUMAC), School of Engineering and Technology.

“This initiative is aligned with the vision of Malaysia as outlined in the 12 Malaysian Plan to protect the country's natural habitat and create a better return on value from the biodiversity and conservation efforts. Protecting the mangrove using advanced technology will have several economic, social, and environmental spills over to Malaysia and the regional economies” said Prof. Mahendhiran Nair, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research Engagement and Impact of Sunway University.

The research project involves two Japanese companies – Aerosence Inc., which provides drone technology and cloud SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, and Funlead Corp., an ICT company that provides support for data acquisition and image analysis with artificial intelligence technologies. Aerosense and Funlead are both the alumni of 2021 JETRO-Sunway Innovation Labs (iLabs) Digital Transformation Accelerator that aims to support the Japanese companies to better position themselves and expand across Malaysia, using the Sunway ecosystem as a launchpad and testbed.

According to Satoru Shimada, Board of Directors of Aerosense, the research will be further complemented with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology that will cover up to about 300ha per flight for drone photogrammetry. This will enhance the mangrove monitoring efficiency. Meanwhile, Koichi Kishi, the Senior Manager of Funlead Corp. envisages the deployment of a compact, light-weight hyperspectral sensor in the next phase to improve analytical abilities. This enhancement is supposed to enable the grasping distribution of Mangrove species precisely. 

“As one of the collaborative partners, Sarawak Forest Corporation is always in pursuit of useful and innovative technology that helps save the environment. This collaboration between all the parties will help conservation as the focused work targets our concerns of healthy forest and degraded lands that we need to rewild,” said Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Forest Corporation.

"JETRO works together with the Japanese government to promote open innovation by supporting the collaboration between ASEAN organizations and Japanese companies. Environmental conservation is one of the synergistic areas between Malaysia and Japan and this collaboration uses the advantages and ability of both countries in building meaningful solutions around the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; an excellent example of Malaysia-Japan business collaboration in keeping the environmental ecosystem”, commented Yuhei Enguchi, the Digital Transformation Director of JETRO Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Photo Captions:

Photo caption: Front row, from the left: Prof. Yap Kian Meng (Sunway), Ms. Voon Mufeng (SFC), AP Dr. Lin Mei-Hua(Sunway), Chong Kah Yan (Sunway student) Dr. Steven (Sunway), Muhammad Irfan Bin Mohamad Lutfi (Sunway student), Satoru Shimada-san (Aerosense), Koici Kishi-san (funlead)

Back row, from the left: Angel Yap Yi rou (Sunway student), Lim Han Shen (Sunway student), AP Dr. Lee Yunli (Sunway), Ms. Stacy (SFC), Mr. Syaiful (SFC), Hazman (UTS student), Mr. Gary Loh Chee Wyai (UTS), Dr. Melvin Terry Gumal (SFC), Ms. Connie Geri (SFC), Ms. Wong (SFC)

SFC - Sarawak Forestry Corporation

UTS - University of Technology Sarawak

Alternative caption: Prof. Yap (most left) with researchers and students from Sunway University, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, University of Technology Sarawak and representative from Aerosense and Funlead


About Sunway University

Sunway University is one of Malaysia’s leading private universities which is a strictly not-for-profit institution dedicated to quality education, supporting enterprise, and undertaking research focused on key global problems. The University is based in Sunway City, a thriving green resort city built on reclaimed former tin-mining land, on the western side of Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the Klang Valley. The University is young by global standards but is already ranked within the top 2% of universities in the world (QS World University Rankings), and in the top 1.5% of universities in Asia, as well as being ranked within the top 150 universities in the world under 50 years old. The University has a 5-star “excellent” rating by the Malaysian government (in the latest Setara assessment exercise) and is one of just eleven universities in Malaysia to be awarded the special “Premier Digital Technology University” status. Sunway University has developed close collaborations with many leading international universities including Harvard University, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Lancaster University, and MIT.



  • Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan (METI).
  • Established in 1958, JETRO has provided significant assistance to thousands of foreign companies, particularly small and medium-sized firms by conducting wide-ranging program to promote trade and investment with the aim of simulating both the East Asian and global economies.
  • For more information on JETRO, please visit:

About Aerosense Inc.

Aerosense, founded in 2015, leads the drone industry with a line of UAVs that serve a broad range of industries from surveying, construction, agriculture, inspection, and broadcasting to logistics. In addition to UAVs, Aerosense's Aerobo Marker and Aerobo Cloud optimize and automate traditional surveying methods, reducing the hours needed to complete tasks.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, from our hardware to software, Aerosense provides an all-in-one automating solution for your business needs with made-in-Japan UAVs.


About Funlead Corp.

The Funlead Corp. (a wholly owned Subsidiary by Taiyo Holdings Co., Ltd.) has been established on March 26, 2013, aiming to be an indispensable company to play a fundamental role in Digital Transformation with key features of remote sensing, GIS (Geospatial Information System) and AI technologies. Funlead has been awarded “FY2019 Demonstration Project utilizing Michibiki (Japanese Navigation Satellite)” funded by Government of Japan and successfully conducted the experiment in Malaysia in Jan. 2020. In the wake of above trial in Malaysia, Funlead is striving to contribute to Mangrove Forest Conservation through AgriTech solutions.


About Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC)

Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) is a statutory body of the Sarawak Government formed under Sarawak Forestry Corporation Ordinance, 1995.

Our main functions are to manage Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) and to conserve Biodiversity of Sarawak. We have been entrusted to protect the wildlife of Sarawak, particularly the totally protected and protected species. In doing this, we are governed by National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance 1998 and Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1998.


About University of Technology Sarawak

University of Technology Sarawak (UTS) is the culmination of the State of Sarawak’s vision and commitment in establishing a world-class institution of higher learning to spearhead the development and production of technical human resource for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Situated in Sibu, one of the main gateways into SCORE, UTS campus is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art facilities to facilitate teaching, learning and research activities necessary in the production of graduates required by the industries within SCORE.