President, Founder & Chief Executive Officer
ANDREW SEBASTIAN is a well regarded naturalist, environmentalist and sought after nature/bird guide, serving as the full time conservationist for the Malaysian Nature Society for 20 years. A Law graduate, he joined MNS, having spent much of his childhood in the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) where his father worked for the Forestry Department. He served MNS and dealt with grass roots initiatives such as public campaigns to protect Belum Temengor, Bukit Larut, Tanjung Tuan, Bukit Gasing, Pulau Redang, Cameron Highlands and Sg. Buloh Forest Reserve. He also assisted with Climate Change issues, Local Community Empowerment projects, developing fundraising, CSR and corporate partnerships as well as coordinating the media on behalf of MNS. He was also one of the official spokespersons for MNS.
In terms of Birds and Ecotourism, he is an avid birdwatcher as well as a certified nature guide and seasoned Padi open water diver. He developed the first “Developing Birdwatching As An Ecotourism Product” proposal and project for the Ministry of Tourism in 2008. He led the Milky Stork Captive Breeding Programme (Kuala Selangor, 2001), developed Bird Checklist for Kota Damansara Community Forest, Kenyir Lake, Genting Highlands and Bird Tourism Development Plans for Genting Berhad and Belum Rainforest Resort. Andrew conducts workshops on birdwatching for beginners and represents MNS at most regional Bird Fairs, including the British Bird Fair in 2009, the Moscow International Travel Trade in March 2011, as a subject matter expert on Birdwatching/Ecotourism for Tourism Malaysia (Industrial Development Division) to promote bird tourism and bird conservation. He was also the focal point and involved previously in organizing the Fraser’s Hill Bird Race for the past 6 years, MNS’ iconic Raptor Watch, which is the largest nature event in Malaysia, for the past 8 years and helped develop the concept and coordination of the inaugural Borneo Bird Festival in 2009. He also represented MNS as one of the founding members of the Asian Bird Fair (ABF) partnership, created in 2010, consisting of 5 regional bird and national bird conservation organizations.
In 2012, Andrew represented Malaysia at the Philippines Bird Festival (Dec 2012) and Taipei International Bird Fair (Nov 2012) and conducted 3 certified courses in Introduction to Birdwatching & BioTourism, for Tourism Malaysia in December 2012 and 2014. In January 2013, he was a presenter at the Global Birdwatchers Conference in India and in February, he presented at the International Wildlife Tourism Conference in Taiwan, as speaker for Tourism Malaysia in Hong Kong. In September 2009, he conceptualized and coordinated the International Hornbill Expedition in Belum. In Nov 2013 he presented ‘International Wildlife Tourism’ in Mei-O University, Okinawa. He organised the Royal Belum Bird Expedition on 5th – 7th September 2014 and very recently he successfully organised the Asian Bird Fair in Langkawi on 28th November 2014.
In February 2015, Andrew unveiled his latest project, developing Tourism Malaysia’s “Birdwatching in Malaysia” booklet for worldwide circulation. On 14th May 2015, Andrew presented a paper “Birdwatching Sites in Pahang” at the Tourism Pahang Travel Mart & Seminar in Singapore. The very next day, he flew to Jingshan, China as a guest of the CCX to attend their Annual Jingshan Bird Race as part of the Asian Bird Fair Network Executive Committee.
On May 22 2015, Andrew led his MNS team in organising a successful seminar in conjunction with the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2015. The seminar was entitled Ecotourism – The Way Forward for Fraser’s Hill in which Andrew presented 2 papers on the ‘Organising & Promoting Bird Events in the Region’ and ‘Tanjung Tuan’s Raptor Watch’.
In September 2015, Andrew left MNS to develop his own NGO, Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) as its Chief Executive Officer. ECOMY in its infancy, have already been quoted in the media 5 times and is undertaking 4 projects to develop and promote ecotourism in Malaysia. This includes a pioneer approach and project Pangkor Island Nature Guide Mentorship Programme where ECOMY is capacity building local community representatives to pursue and embrace ecotourism best practices and nature guiding skills.
Andrew’s latest international accomplishments include representing Malaysia at the inaugural American Birding Expo in Ohio, 2nd October 2015, co-organising the 6th Asian Bird Fair in Singapore on 31st October 2015 and speaking at the upcoming Philippines Bird Festival 6-8th December 2015’s International Ecotourism Forum.
To date, Andrew has published 4 papers on birds while coordinating Malaysia’s first Milky Stork Captive Breeding Programme in Kuala Selangor and as lead investigator for birds during 3 scientific expeditions. He has also developed 6 checklists for birds from various sites in Malaysia and published 14 articles on nature related topics mainly in the quarterly magazine, Malaysian Naturalist. He has personally recorded a total number of 2,400 birds worldwide and hopes to reach a target of 4,000 birds before he dies!
He has been quoted in the mass media over 255 times over the past 19 years and is currently listed in the Lonely Planet as an local environmental personality since 2011. He is co-founder of the newly registered Wild Bird Club of Malaysia and Vice President of the Malaysian Ecotourism Association (MEA).