Tag Archives: conservation

When Invaders Move In On Batu Caves (And They Have)

[First published 31 May 2021]

From flowering plants to butterflies , invasive species are taking over Batu Caves. This alarming threat to the fragile limestone ecosystem needs addressing.

WE HAD trekked up Batu Caves for about 10 minutes when botanist Dr Ruth Kiew turned to me and asked, “Can you see the difference in the vegetation?”

“Between limestone and non-limestone vegetation, you mean?”

“Yes.”

I scanned the plants before me. This was pre-pandemic times and I had been researching limestone species from lists provided by Kiew.

(Photo: Invasive species threaten plants like the keladi (foreground), discovered only 2 years ago and found only on Batu Caves, says limestone specialist Ruth Kiew. ~ pic by SL Wong)

(more…)

Covid Provides Relief for Wildlife – but Not Really

With new lockdowns and closure of international borders, wildlife has been an increasingly common sight in Malaysia’s urban areas. But what does this mean? This commentary was first published on Channel News Asia and is republished here with permission.

[First posted May 27, 2021]

WHO DOESN’T like animal videos? Malaysians certainly do. 

With unending COVID-19 lockdowns, a subset of these have become social media favourites: Wild animals in urban areas.

Such visuals feed into the pandemic mantra of “Look how nature recovers when we humans are out of the picture”. But how true is that?

(Photo: Visuals of cute animals in human environments have been going viral during Covid-19; this one hasn’t but registers on the cute scale ~ Pic by Nuratiqah AR )

Continue reading Covid Provides Relief for Wildlife – but Not Really

Geopark Not Just Another Label for Kinabalu

Though already a World Heritage Site, Kinabalu needs geopark status to conserve oft overlooked natural values, argues geologist Felix Tongkul.

MOUNT Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain, is now being assessed for UNESCO Global Geopark status. The proposed geopark encompasses not just the mountain, but the park in which it sits as well as the surrounding districts of Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and Ranau, an area of 4,750 square kilometres.

Kinabalu Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

Why is there a need for more recognition for Kinabalu Park from UNESCO? Is the Global Geopark status more superior to the World Heritage Site status? What is so interesting about geoparks? These are valid questions I often hear from my friends.

(Photo: Mount Kinabalu is the only glacial landscape in the tropical region. Glacial erosion from melting ice 10,000 years ago formed these parallel grooves. – Pic by Felix Tongkul.)

Continue reading Geopark Not Just Another Label for Kinabalu

Can Oil Palm Explain The Lower Forest Loss Here?

Last year, tropical forest loss increased worldwide but Malaysia cut down less than it did the previous year, the fourth year it has done so. What explains this good news?

[First posted on 27 April, 12.17pm.]

Last year, the world lost 12% more tropical forest than it did in 2019, according to satellite census by forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch. Malaysia bucked the global trend: it lost less. 

In fact, Malaysia has trimmed its primary forest losses four years in a row. Losses fell from about 185,000 hectares in 2016 to nearly 73,000 hectares in 2020 (Figure 1).

At the same time, there is a slow down in the expansion of the sector most frequently linked to deforestation – oil palm. Oil palm area in Malaysia contracted in 2020 – the first drop in 44 years.

Could this explain Malaysia’s recent downtrend in primary forest losses? And can we expect forest loss to drop further?

(Photo: Malaysia has been losing less primary forest since 2016. Graph: YH Law)

Continue reading Can Oil Palm Explain The Lower Forest Loss Here?

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.

Continue reading Must the Pan Borneo Highway Dissect the Tawai Forest?

Locals Make Terrapin Conservation Successful

When floods hit Kemaman, terrapin conservationist Chen Pelf Nyok raised funds to help her local partners who had supported conservation.

In early January, floods hit Kemaman, Terengganu, the district where Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), the organization I lead, is based.

Many villages were flooded. My husband asked if we should begin raising funds to help the villagers who were our project partners.

I said no.

(Photo: Flood devastated Kemaman, Terengganu, in early January 2021. Pic from Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.)

Continue reading Locals Make Terrapin Conservation Successful

Islander Partners Improve Resource Management

Locals must be involved in managing their own islands and island resources, says Julian Hyde. It is better for community empowerment and for nature.

“CO-MANAGEMENT of natural resources”: It is in the National Policy on Biological Diversity; it is in the Convention on Biodiversity (of which Malaysia is a signatory); it is in the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is everywhere, except in the communities where it matters most.

(Photo: All together now: Tioman islanders and NGO members remove reef-smothering ghost nets. Pic by Reef Check Malaysia)

Continue reading Islander Partners Improve Resource Management

The Pandemic and Our Growing Disconnection from Nature

Forced to stay home from the Movement Control Order, Tan Win Sim reflects on his – and our – deteriorating connection with nature.

A WISPY layer of dust has settled on my binoculars. Much to my dismay, I cannot recall the last time I went out for a stroll down untrodden paths while enjoying the gentle breeze and listening to the cheerful tweets of forest birds.

The Melaka Botanical Garden, just a stone’s throw from my hometown in Jasin, has always been one of my favourite birding spots.

While the Garden’s bird diversity pales in comparison to that of Panti Bird Sanctuary or Endau Rompin National Park, it is still a bird haven in the sprawling urban landscape of Melaka.

(Photo: A Grey-bellied Bulbul taking a dip in a relatively undisturbed forest in Johor. Such a clear stream is almost impossible to find in the Malaysian urban landscape. Pic by Tan Win Sim)

(more…)

NGOs Dangerously Stuck In The Rut

Drawing from her environmental experience in three sectors, Ginny SL Ng is concerned that environmental NGOs are not future-proofing themselves.

SO, THE year 2020 has been a blast, hasn’t it? There has been much said and written about the impact of the epidemic and the new normal, and the many communities and sectors that have suffered due to an economy built heavily on travel and consumption.

Unfortunately, one of the sectors that may continue to face such challenges after the pandemic is the non-profit or civil society sector.

(Photo: Being territorial is fine for tigers; less so for NGOs. Pic by Ginny SL Ng)

Continue reading NGOs Dangerously Stuck In The Rut

Forest-use: The Public Wants A Say

#FORESTFILES: PART 4

Juggling between development and environmental conservation is difficult when it comes to forest-use. But there are ways to be more inclusive. This is Part 4 of Forest Files.

MALAYSIA has had decades of continuous economic and population growth since independence.

In 2019, the country achieved a gross domestic production (GDP) of about RM1.5 trillion, more than a hundred-times the GDP in the 1960s. The population almost quadrupled over the same period.

However, before Malaysia industrialised in the 1980s, it exploited its natural resources, including its most accessible at that time: primary forests, some of the oldest in the world.

(Public participation allows citizens affected by forest-use change to voice out; pictured at the North Kuala Langat Forest Reserve degazettement townhall are [clockwise from top] Kg OA Pulau Kempas’s Tonjoi Bin Pipis and Batin Raman Pahat, and Kg OA Busut Baru’s Rosnah Anak Senin. Pics by Shakila Zen/KUASA)

(more…)