Training on data and wildlife crime
2 October 2023: We’ve been busy conducting training the last couple of months. In August, we gave a 45-minute workshop on data and climate journalism as part of EB Impact’s “Sustainability Media Academy Satellite Workshop” in Kuala Lumpur. Participants comprised journalists, public relation officers and environmental NGO staff.
Then last month, journalists went through a 3-day workshop on solutions journalism for reporting on nature crimes in Malaysia. Organised by the US Agency for Global Media, participants researched trafficking data, made a field reporting trip to Bukit Bintang, and developed story ideas on everything from crocodiles and orchids to corals.
Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2023
2 October 2023: We highlight wins for indigenous people: Timber giant Samling withdraws its defamation suit against NGO Save Rivers in Sarawak on lack of FPIC; and coming up is a judicial review hearing of the Temoq Orang Asli of Pahang‘s suit against the EIA approval for clearing of traditional land without FPIC.
The last section of limestone hill Gunung Kanthan in Perak, is under threat of quarrying with the eviction of a 100-year-old monastery after the Court of Appeals reversed an eariler judgement in favour of YTL subsidiary Associated Pan Malaysia Cement.
The National Energy Transition Roadmap aims for a 2050 cutoff for coal and a 23% renewable energy mix, up from 4% in 2020. But challenges range from funds to technology.
Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2023
31 August 2023: As of August, Sabah’s 2-million hectare carbon credit deal appears to still be on. While the state’s attorney-general questions the details of the so-called Nature Conservation Agreement, the government insists everything is above board. We discuss the need for transparency, additionality and community consent.
In neighbouring Sarawak, a global meeting of primate conservationists raised the profile of Malaysian primates and locals working with them. The International Primatological Society and Malaysian Primatological Society Joint Meeting 2023 highlighted that the gaps are sometimes so big in conservation, any support has disproportionately meaningful.
Meanwhile in Pahang, 134,183ha of land is being gazetted as a tiger reserve, an effort hoped to be completed by the end of 2028. Legally it will be a Forest Sanctuary for Wildlife, which means the Forestry rather than Wildlife Department will manage it. Yet to be revealed are its goals, funding and governance.
Creating social media content for youth
30 August 2023: Thrilled to announce Youths United For Earth (YUFE) and Macaranga Media’s collaboration! YUFE will produce content based on Macaranga stories, so look out for #YUFExMacaranga content on our joint socials!
YUFE is a youth-led nonprofit seeking to mobilise Malaysian youths for environmental action through environmental storytelling, campaigns and advocacy.
The collaboration was kickstarted by an environmental journalism workshop by Macaranga. At the workshop, the participants learned about journalism basics, storytelling tips, and content frameworks, and they produced 3 pieces of content that would be polished for uploading later.
The workshop was supported by Soroptomist International Bentong. Thank you to WORQ KL for sponsoring the venue on Day 2!
Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2023
1 August 2023: A forum on ecological fiscal transfer (EFT) discussed financial incentives provided by the federal government to state governments to encourage conservation and restoration of forests, rivers, and coasts. The Federal government issues guidelines for state govts; states will get higher EFT if they perform better. Performance matrices includes expanding Protection Areas, effective management, restoration and enrichment and improving facilities.
Shipping is not something we think about but Malaysia is working on making it greener by reducing its GHG emissions. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said “global shipping is ever increasing and shipping emission is estimated to surge to 130 % by 2050.”
Malaysia supports the UN target to cut carbon intensity in international shipping by 40% in 2030 and 70% by 2050.
Menawhile, a big wildlife trade network was busted: 4 Malaysians and 3 foreigners were nabbed by MACC’s Anti-Money Laundering Division based on intelligence from enforcement agencies in the US, UK and Hong Kong. Pangolins are world’s most trafficked animal.
Gold for environmental reporting two years in a row
6 July 2023: We are thrilled to be acknowledged nationally for our environmental reporting for the second year running. At the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI)-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Awards 2022, we were awarded the gold award for our #TanahAir series that examined drying paddy fields in Kedah, coastal reclamation in Melaka, and waste pollution in Perhentian Island.
We also won Silver in investigative journalism for our #ladanghutan series that revealed the many ways that forest plantations in Peninsular Malaysia have utterly failed their sustainability goals. The problems remain.
We are honoured to be in the company of the other winners in our categories from the New Straits Times, the Star, Bernama, Malaysiakini and Sin Chew Daily. Full list of winners here.
Thank you to our readers, Macaranga Supporters and our story grantors: The Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigative Network fellowship, Earth Journalism Network, the Habitat Foundation and Said Zahari Award.
Monthly Wrap-Up: June 2023
6 July 2023: Rare earths are a hot-hot-hot resource thanks to smart phones and electric cars. Rare earth deposits in Malaysia are estimated at hundreds of billions of ringgit. But what are the environmental costs?
Another hot-hot-hot resource is sand, in this case, to reclaim land on Tioman island for a controversial airport. According to the EIA, corals are to be moved, a hill is to be quarried and marine park status to be impacted. The school and other priorities on the island need attention, opines a local in Macaranga.
Looking ahead, July 29 celebrates the King of the Jungle, the tiger. Every effort is still needed to reverse the Malayan Tiger’s decline, including forest links.
Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2023
1 June 2023: The climate crisis and an impending El Nino are making the hot weather hotter, our first topic for the May environmental news wrapup. We discuss which states are the hottest and what is being done to ensure we have enough water.
Deforestation was also on the cards, specifically the European Union’s Deforestation Free Regulation, which Malaysia and Indonesia are in Brussels to protest how it unfairly targets the oil palm industry.
Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2023
26 April 2023: Unfortunately, it’s a wrap-up of court cases and petitions this month. We look at how the Semai from Pos Lanai and the Temiar of Kampung Cunex are bringing governments to court, and how Sarawak NGO Save Rivers are fighting a lawsuit by timber company Samling over indigenous rights claims.
Then we talk about food waste, the amount of which is collected by the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) during Ramadan is increasing every year.
Ending on a bright note: Sabah artist Yee I-Larn and collaborators will bring their exhibition of tikar (weaving) art to Kuala Lumpur in May and June. Find them at Borneo Heart.
Law Yao Hua wins Sigma Award for Data Journalism
2 April 2023: We have won a Sigma Award for data journalism!
Our entry of three stories was revealed as one of 11 winners. The stories were written by Yao-Hua Law and edited by Siew Lyn Wong, and supported by a Rainforest Investigations Network fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for Yao Hua.
The Sigma Awards “is a competition to celebrate the best data journalism from around the world”. This year, the jury and prize committee of > 40 data journalism practitioners evaluated 638 entries from 80 countries –the most entries received in the award’s 4 year history.
Six entries from Asia were shortlisted, and Macaranga‘s was the only Asian entry among the 11 winners (the 10th and 11 winners are joint-winners). Ours is also the first Malaysian entry to win.
The prize committee highlighted Macaranga‘s achievements in elevating data journalism in Malaysia, particularly in addressing environmental issues “in a country which has many needs in this area.” The committee also appreciated that we published forestry data, called out environmental crimes and stopped them.
Of course, we are stunned by this win. We are honoured by this recognition from our global colleagues, and very much humbled by their craft and tenacity.
Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2023
27 March 2023: Sarawak announces the establishment of a Climate Change Centre in its bid to become a regional leader in carbon trading initiatives. Already, at least five countries had expressed interest in working with Sarawak for carbon trading and storage.
And in Parliament, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Climate Change revealed that it may authorise the Department of Environment to appoint consultants to conduct environmental impact assessments. Currently, consultants are selected and hired by project developers. What might go wrong?
Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2023
28 February 2023: Last month, the government proposed amending the Water Services Industry Act (655) , to increase the water pollution fine to RM10 million from RM100,000, and the jail sentence to 15 years from one year. Are these much higher fines the answer?
Meanwhile, Penang’s nature-based climate adaptation programme aims to be a model for the country, addressing urban greening, stormwater management, social resilience and institutional capacity.
Climate reporting needs improving
28 February 2023: There are challenges aplenty but also solutions when it comes to reporting on the climate and energy transition in Malaysia, according to a recent research report.
‘Climate and energy transition reporting in Peninsular Malaysia’s mainstream news media’ by Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY) was launched on Saturday, and Siew Lyn moderated the related media panel discussion.
Insights by Macaranga also appear in the report.
The dicussion looked at how to address the report findings that stories were scarce, and most were single-source, hard news reportage.
Challenges identified include lack of time, reporters and editors with specialist knowledge, inadequate institutional support for climate issues, and the difficulty in accessing government data.
Solutions already in practice include collaborations among different media, op-eds by experts, and doing follow-up stories with more depth. The ideal situation would be to have climate/environmental reporters or desks.
Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2023
31 January 2023: The inclusion of the role of the federal government in town and country planning would promote coordination and ensure “development takes place in a well-balanced manner and accords with the sharing of responsibilities and the principle that public interest precedes private interest in the use and development of land.”
Last month, a landmark Federal Court judgement in favour of the environment was delivered in the decade-long Sungai Ara, Penang hillslope development case. We discuss what the judgement says and keep our fingers crossed for its implications.
We also talk about the hot topic of carbon trading. We looked at the investigation by The Guardian, Die Zeit, and SourceMaterial which says that more than 90% of the rainforest carbon credits issued through carbon credit scheme Verra have overclaimed their benefits for slowing down climate change.
With Malaysia having just launched our Voluntary Carbon Market using the Verra standard, there needs to be more cooperation and scrutiny to improve carbon credit schemes.
And we look ahead to Budget 2023 and the green goodies that were promised then as well as are being promised in the coalition government’s maifestos.
Macaranga Webinar: Carbon market 101
5 January 2023: A month ago, Bursa Malaysia launched the country’s first voluntary carbon market exchange. The exchange aims to attract companies to “to trade voluntary carbon credits from climate-friendly projects and solutions, with the aim to offset their emission footprint and meet climate goals.”
Right, but what does trading of carbon credits really mean for conservation, human rights, and climate action in the country? Those and more were discussed in a webinar we organised for Macaranga Supporters.
Carbon analyst Tan Win Sim explained the aims and basic mechanisms of a carbon market exchange (another speaker had to cancel due to a last minute emergency). During a rigorous 30-minute Q&A session, participants and Win Sim shared views on the dynamics between carbon credits and greenwashing, indigenous peoples, and reducing carbon emissions.