This booming commercial center is expanding rapidly. Thankfully, businesses, conservation groups, and local governments have met some success in their efforts to preserve the rain forests in its vicinity.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"An amazing place. Good local and national efforts at protecting the rain forests."
"The challenges of preserving environmental quality and cultural integrity here are especially great. But mass tourism has not yet afflicted the region. One impressive accomplishment is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, which attempts to preserve this endangered species. A visit to the slopes of the massive Mt. Kinabalu reveals an amazing variety of plant life in this equatorial setting. The city of Kota Kinabalu is crowded, but has a national park and bird sanctuary nearby."
"Businesses, government and conservation groups are working toward a sustainable future in the region."
"I was disturbed to see how much of the land north of Kota Kinabalu was being razed to make way for palm-oil plantations. In light of this and the extensive logging being carried out in neighboring Sarawak, I think the optimism concerning the area's sustainability needs to be tempered."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.