Tag Archives: environment

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)

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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)

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Revenue and Power Drive Forest Area Changes

#FORESTFILES: PART 3

To understand forest-use dynamics in Peninsular Malaysia, one must know how state governments – the sole authority on land use – perceive forests. This is Part 3 of Forest Files.

IN AUGUST 2019, when then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched a forestry exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, he took the audience down memory lane.

“At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, as the Prime Minister of Malaysia back then, I made a pledge that Malaysia is committed to maintain at least 50 percent of our land mass under forest cover,” said Mahathir.

(Photo: Logs, like these harvested from a permanent reserve forest in Johor, are an important source of revenue for many state governments. Pic by YH Law.)

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Excision – The Main Threat to Forests in Peninsular Malaysia

#FORESTFILES: PART 2

Decades ago, rampant logging looked set to decimate forests in Malaysia. That is no longer the case but a less familiar force is driving forest change – one over which state governments have full control. This is Part 2 of the Forest Files series.

THE 1970s were the golden age of logging in Peninsular Malaysia, veteran loggers told Macaranga.

Then the federal government came up with the National Forestry Policy in 1978 and the National Forestry Act in 1984 to promote sustainable forestry in the country.

(Photo: A new road snakes through a permanent reserve forest bloc in Johor which was last logged in the 1970s. Composite pic by YH Law.)

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Forest Loss: Under Whose Watch?

How much forest loss is too much? And are the drivers of this loss the same as in the past? In Forest Files, Macaranga examines the dynamics and mechanics of forest-use changes in Malaysia. Our four-part In-Depth series focuses on Peninsular Malaysia, where more forests were lost in the last 30 years than in East Malaysia.

In Part 1, we look at how much forest we actually have, forest-use policies, and forestry decision-makers. In Part 2, we consider a key driver of forest loss – excision from permanent reserve forests. Part 3 asks what drives decision-makers and we end with Part 4 on how citizens could influence forest-use.

(Photo: A bird’s eye view of the protected primary hill and lowland rainforest of the Royal Belum State Park, 2003. Pic by SK Chong/Sasyaz Holdings)

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A New Journalism Portal

[Updated 27 April 2020]

WELCOME to the Beta version of Macaranga, a new journalism portal covering the environment and sustainability in Malaysia. We aim to provide in-depth journalistic features on issues and build knowledge about ecosystems.

Our objective is to be relevant, insightful and accurate and to fill a gap in local content production.

Malaysian media coverage of the environment and sustainability has,
and continues to be overshadowed by a focus on economic development, in
line with national aspirations.

Global coverage is select and scattered.

This is despite Malaysia’s rich natural resources and growing economic costs of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Hence, Macaranga.

Research-based journalism

When we launched in 2019, Malaysia had a new government for the first
time in 60 years. In February this year, political realignments saw
another coalition government take over. The Covid-19 crisis began and
continues to cause uncertainty.

Through it all, there is an even greater need for deeply-researched,
engaging and accurately-reported stories about environmental issues —
stories which are significant nationally and beyond.

As such, the team is digging deep into our experience, networks within
and outside Malaysia, specialist knowledge and communication skills. We
are also collaborating with different groups and are aiming for more
collaborations.

We would like this digital, interactive platform to eventually become
a source of reliable and relevant information on Malaysia’s
environment.

Ultimately, we would like to inform, persuade, educate and connect
policy-makers, environmental groups, scientists, businesses, journalists
and the public to jointly pursue sustainable development.

The team

The portal is the brainchild of, and is run by Malaysia-based environmental and science writers, Law Yao Hua and SL Wong. Together, we have over 30 years of experience reporting, writing and producing content.

We have done work for local and international print, broadcast and online media, government and aid agencies, corporations and environmental organisations. We have also produced videos, podcasts, books, and run workshops.

Working with our content-producing and publishing network, we hope Macaranga will be an impactful digital multimedia platform.

We want to be as relevant as possible, so we welcome comments and feedback. Do also tell us what topics you feel we should cover here. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Huge thanks to Chong Su Weii (suu.work{at}gmail{dot}com) for helping us get this Beta website up.

(Photo: A botanist’s notebook – SL Wong)

WHAT IS MACARANGA?

Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) is a family of tropical pioneer species that recolonises disturbed forest areas, paving the way for other species. It is found all over Malaysia — about 9% of the 300 known species call Malaysia home — as well as throughout Asia and beyond, as far as Africa.

Known locally as ‘mahang’, Macaranga has a symbiotic relationship with tree-living ants (Formicidae): the plant provides the ants food, the ants provide the plant protection from pests. Different parts of the plant are also widely used by humans in traditional medicine.

References:

Govaerts, R., et al (2019). World Checklist of Euphorbiaceae. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://wcsp.science.kew.org/ Retrieved 18 July 2019.

Nor Aishah Mazlan, Ahmed Mediani, Faridah Abas, et al., “Antioxidant, Antityrosinase, Anticholinesterase, and Nitric Oxide Inhibition Activities of Three Malaysian Macaranga Species,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2013, Article ID 312741, 8 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/312741.