Category Archives: Insight

Short features 500-1200 words

Must the Pan Borneo Highway Dissect the Tawai Forest?

Funds and political support are reinvigorating the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sabah. But is there time to consider ways to mitigate its environmental and socioeconomic impact?

WITH 2,239 kilometres of new roads to be built by 2025, the Pan Borneo Highway is expected to boost connectivity, tourism and trade in and between Sabah and Sarawak.

Parts of the current route, however, would severely impact the environment and local communities, say local NGOs and researchers.

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遏制珊瑚礁间的炸鱼:沙巴州的故事

当旅游业遭新冠疫情重创,当地居民的生活难以为继,许多人担心这种破坏性捕捞方式将卷土重来

一声低沉的爆炸声响起,潜水员们愣在了原地,不安地看着同伴和潜水长。幸运的是,爆炸似乎离得非常远,不影响他们继续探索色彩斑斓的珊瑚礁。

在沙巴州,炸鱼是潜水业的噩梦,不仅让游客望而却步,而且还摧毁着海洋生物,并且危及渔民自身的安全。

(Photo: 沙巴的曼塔纳尼群岛(Mantanani islands)附近海域一枚未爆炸的自制捕鱼炸弹。图片来源:Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)

Continue reading 遏制珊瑚礁间的炸鱼:沙巴州的故事

Tackling fish-bombing among the coral reefs of Sabah

With tourism hit by the pandemic and local people struggling to make ends meet, many fear a resurgence of this destructive fishing method.

AT THE sound of a muffled “boom”, the divers pause and look uneasily at each other and their divemaster. Luckily, the blast seems far enough for the group to continue exploring the colourful reef.

Fish-bombing is the stuff of nightmares for the diving industry in Sabah. Not only does it put off the tourists, it also devastates marine life and endangers the fishers themselves.

(Photo: An unexploded, homemade fish bomb off the Mantanani islands, Sabah | Image by: Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)

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The Environmental Rights To End Pollution

Are Malaysians fed up enough of river pollution to assert their environmental rights? Do they even know what these rights are?

ASTONISHINGLY, it happened again: Sungai Kim Kim in Johor was polluted once more in early March. And it happened smack on the second anniversary of the toxic waste disaster there that hospitalised 2,700 and cost RM6.4m to clean up.

While this recent episode was described by the Minister of Environment as “normal pollution” and not hazardous, it raises concerns and questions as to why any pollution has recurred. 

Johoreans are not the only ones wondering this. 

(Photo: The Barchats: Envirorights webinars on environmental rights drew 435 lawyers and members of the public. Facebook screenshot: Bar Council Committee on Environment and Climate Change)

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Discoveries Support Urgent Protection for Batu Caves

Scientists make new findings, not necessarily all good, in the iconic Batu Caves, confirming its status as a natural treasure.

FOR THE millions of tourists who thronged Batu Caves in pre-Covid-19 times, and even for the residents who live nearby, the limestone hill is known only for its colourful Hindu temple and the Thaipusam festival.

Overshadowed is the hill’s scientific importance. Batu Caves is actually the best-studied limestone hill in Southeast Asia with many valuable natural history characteristics which are threatened.

In fact, is there even anything of scientific value left to conserve? The answer is a resounding “yes” according to a recent scientific expedition.

(Photo: Collecting Epithema parvibracteatum, endemic to Batu Caves and critically endangered; Ruth Kiew is second from left; Nur Atiqah Abd Rahman is on the left. Pic by SL Wong)

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How to Fit a 15-storey Hotel in Fraser’s Hill

Planners are drafting a new plan for Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area. How should development proceed there?

FRASER’S Hill will get a new development concept plan soon. The Raub District Council, which oversees development in Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, has appointed town planner Iktisas Planners to come up with the plan. 

The consultant told Macaranga they aim to finish the concept plan in November, and declined to comment more.

The new concept plan adds a new dimension to recent events that have focused discussion on how Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area, should be developed.

In particular, some residents and concerned citizens are opposing the building of a hotel there which has been approved by the Council.

(Photo: The iconic clock tower greets visitors to Fraser’s Hill, a destination popular for its cool weather, nature and colonial-style buildings. Pic by : Pashmina Binwani)

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What Conservationists Want In Budget 2021

ACCORDING to the Parliamentary schedule, the Malaysian government will table Budget 2021 in the Parliamentary meeting on 6 November. 

The Budget would reflect the government’s plans to carry the country out of the pandemic woes of 2020. 

Malaysians have had a troubled year. Our lives, economy and national policies were derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and unexpected changes in the Federal government and state governments of Johor, Melaka, Kedah and Sabah

Many conservation groups struggled to keep finances and operations running.

Amidst the turbulence, Malaysians continue to see our environment degrade: pollution of rivers and coasts; clear-felling and degazettement of forest reserves for economic activities; human-elephant conflicts; and poaching. 

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“The Pandemic Killed Everything We Had Planned”

In their own words, conservationists share their their struggles during the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of Macaranga‘s Taking Stock series, these stories were written based on interviews; all interviewees approved the text.

DR WONG SIEW TE, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

THE PANDEMIC killed everything that we had planned for this year.

We have one major source of revenue – visitors. There are other sources, of course: donations, bear adoption programmes.

But with job losses and the economy deteriorating, it has affected a lot of our supporters.

(Photo: To generate income, Wong Siew Te is offering live virtual tours of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre . Pic: BSBCC)

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Covid-19 Woes Continue for Conservation

Dire finances and stunted activity continue to plague Malaysia’s conservation sector because of Covid-19. Macaranga surveys the landscape in our Taking Stock series.

FROM GAPS in research to the loss of funding and conversely, wider outreach, Malaysian conservation organisations of every size have been impacted by Covid-19.

But what exactly are these impacts? How have the organisations adapted to this crisis? And have they strengthened their resilience against future shocks?

(Photo: Educational activities involving volunteers and groups have been disrupted [Malaysian Nature Society Facebook])

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Sustainable Islands in the Sun

Sabah’s beautiful islands can be managed so that tourists, nature and local livelihoods co-exist. This is the second of a two-parter on ecotourism in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series. .

FOR YEARS now, mass tourism has been impacting the environmental health of coral islands off Sabah’s west coast. Among them is the Mantanani three-island group, located off the northwestern tip of Borneo.

But there are far fewer tourists now as the pandemic stifles travel. Some islanders are using the lull to try new businesses and better manage their environment.

(Photo: Sun, sea and surf have turned Mantanani into a major tourist draw. Pic by Reef Check Malaysia)

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