The Shorebirds Project of Peninsular Malaysia led by Dr. Nur Munira successfully organised a World Wetlands Day celebration on 29 February 2020. This event is one of many steps she is taking to raise awareness among the local community about the importance of protecting the shorebirds’ habitat at the Teluk Ayer Tawar–Kuala Muda Coast.
The Habitat Penang Hill is a world class rainforest discovery centre located at the edge of the magnificent rainforest located within easy access of the vibrant metropolis of Penang. With its nature trail, iconic treetop walkway, and canopy bridge that provide exceptional rainforest experiences, The Habitat aspires to awaken curiosity and nurture support for conservation among the thousands of visitors it receives each year. Funds generated by The Habitat Penang Hill’s commercial operations go into The Habitat Foundation to support innovative solutions to conserving biodiversity and protecting nature both in Penang and beyond.
The Habitat Foundation is a charitable trust based in Penang, Malaysia and the non-profit sister organization of The Habitat Penang Hill. The two organizations complement each other in the overall mission to connect people to this ancient rainforest, promote biodiversity conservation, and support impactful solutions through the programmatic work of the Foundation. The Habitat Foundation is committed to supporting the conservation of biodiversity and safeguarding the living environment upon which we all depend.
The Foundation works closely with communities, scientists, academic institutions, NGOs, government agencies, protected area managers, and businesses. Our aim is to protect the irreplaceable natural heritage of this region and shift our society towards sustainability.
The Habitat Foundation and The Habitat Penang Hill are supporting the Malaysian Government’s bid to nominate the forests of Penang Hill and adjacent protected areas as a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve. In addition to providing recognition for its outstanding biodiversity values and diverse social landscape, a UNESCO listing would provide a foundation for our ongoing quest to seek balance in the interactions between society and the environment.
In January 2020, iNaturalist trainers including Community and Support Coordinator, Tony Iwane, and Stakeholder Engagement Strategist, Carrie Seltzer, conducted a workshop at The Habitat Penang Hill to share the capabilities of this AI-powered citizen science platform in Southeast Asia. Participants included NGOs, academics, and nature enthusiasts.
THF and Raleigh Kuala Lumpur recently conducted a recce to explore jointly organizing a volunteer activity to enhance visitor amenities and service the 10 km Gunung Perlis Trail.
Every year, the funicular train that takes visitors and workers up Penang Hill is temporarily closed for nine days of routine maintenance works. This year, during the train shutdown, 40 staff from The Habitat Penang Hill and The Habitat Foundation travelled to Sungai Acheh to plant 150 mangrove saplings and get stuck into wetland restoration work with local experts!
2019/2020 CONSERVATION GRANT RECIPIENTS
Kota Damansara Community Forest Society (KDCFS) was established in 2011 to serve as the official community counterpart to the forest reserve which was gazetted for protection in 2010. Today, it is regarded as a model community-managed urban forest and a demonstration of public participation (National Policy on Biodiversity). The Society has received a grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) to implement a 20-month project to establish a common platform to protect remaining green areas in the Klang Valley and create a more hospitable landscape for biodiversity in the sprawling urban metropolis. The Habitat Foundation is strengthening this initiative by providing co-funding to boost capacity for project coordination, networking and successful project delivery.
Building on Think City’s Green Corridor initiative to encourage schools to use their fields for urban biodiversity gardens, this project will support six schools in composting, strengthening green corridors, and growing herbs and vegetables. Led by GreenSmiths, it will enlist other local organizations to help mentor the schoolchildren in establishing and maintaining edible and biodiverse gardens.
This EFWC is an invention of Assoc. Prof Dr Che Zalina Zulkifli from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) and is designed to provide an efficient option to accelerate the transformation of food waste into compost. This project is being supported as an innovation under our sustainability pillar. It aims to provide a solution to reduce the amount of food waste produced on Penang Hill that is disposed as general waste and finds itself in the state landfill. It will involve working closely with Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) to install two Food Waste Composters (EFWCs) which will serve food vendors, cafes and restaurants on the hill.
Urban Biodiversity Initiative (UBI) is an independent collective for urban ecology research, conservation and environmental education. Based at the Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden at Universiti Malaya, they have received a THF Conservation Grant to implement a project promoting the rewilding of urban landscapes through education and community engagement. This project will lay a foundation for integrating biodiversity gardening into the wider urban greening agenda, engaging multiple stakeholders and develop resources for communities, as well as local institutions and government authorities.
This project invests in the mangrove restoration work being done by MNS Pahang in Chendor and Cherating, a popular destination for community-managed ecotourism. Besides its importance for local livelihoods, the area allows people to learn about the role of mangroves in coastal and fisheries resource protection, and as a nature-based solution to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In Royal Belum State Park, The Habitat Foundation is partnering the Perak State Parks Corporation (PSPC) and Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC) to pilot an innovative programme to engage Jahai Orang Asli within the park to establish native tree nurseries from the seeds of wild fruit trees, dipterocarps, and other target species. Saplings from the nursery they will be purchased to be planted at sites important to restore connectivity to the Central Forest Spine.
The Shorebirds Project of Peninsular Malaysia led by Dr Nur Munira will use its Conservation Grant to continue monitoring and documenting the abundance and diversity of birds visiting the TAT-KM Coast. This data will communicate this to shorebird researchers worldwide. Using an integrated approach combining research, community engagement, and education and outreach to engage with key agencies and stakeholders in support of the protection of the remaining mangroves of the coastline and socialize the potential value of this area for nature tourism with benefits to local livelihoods.
Song of the Gibbons is a collaboration between the School of Social Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). It is part of an innovative three-year study using passive acoustic monitoring to better understand gibbon population ecology in and around Taman Negara National Park. The study enlists members of the Bateq hunter-gatherer community at the fringes of Taman Negara National Park as co-researchers. It is led by anthropologist Lye Tuck-Po, who has a longstanding relationship with this community.
2019/2020 RESEARCH GRANT RECIPIENTS
Macaca Nemestrina Project is a long-term behavioural and ecological study of Southern pig-tailed macaques which has been conducted near the Segari Melintang Forest Reserve (SMFR), Perak. Researchers supervised by Dr Nadine Ruppert of the School of Biological Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia are presently engaged in a 3-year research project entitled “Enhancing oil palm sustainability through primate conservation and stakeholder engagement”. The aim of the project is to improve sustainable practices in Malaysian oil palm plantations by protecting the forest habitat of plantations through forest corridors and stakeholder engagement.
During the Penang Hill BioBlitz in October 2017, many rare and relatively unknown cyanobacteria species were detected among the algae samples collected. To understand their contribution to ecosystem functioning, and potential role in biotechnological developments, further study is necessary. This research, led by Dr Faradina Merican of the School of Biological Sciences at USM will compare the diversity of cyanobacteria at the study site with existing records from comparable environments. It is expected to draw attention to rare, endemic and little understood taxa whose presence, abundance and biological conditions may be used to make inferences about the quality of the environment.
A research team from the School of Biological Sciences at USM, led by Dr Rosnida Tajuddin, received a THF Penang Hill Research Grant to document the historical uses and sociological value of local wild edible and medicinal fungi. They will also analyse the mycotoxin potentially present in wild fungi growing in association with the roots of dipterocarp trees, to help determine whether it is safe for human consumption. This study will enhance our understanding of the conservation status of mushrooms in Malaysia and the significance of the biological relationships of fungi within the surrounding forest.
Only discovered and scientifically described in 2016, little remains known about the Penang Hill Vampire Crab. This research will add new understanding, providing insights into their potential threats and conservation needs. The field research is being conducted by Siti Khadijah for her Master’s Research. It is funded by The Habitat Foundation and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.
This study led by Kate Allberry of The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent working with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) will evaluate the genetic diversity of tigers, leopards and clouded leopards in Peninsular Malaysia to assess how effectively designated forest corridors are facilitating gene flow and movement between small populations.
Al-Kautsar Hidayanto and Nurul Syafiqa of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) will gather data on the ecology and population health of the Malaysian Plover. This information is necessary to to guide effective conservation actions for Malaysia’s only resident plover.
Wong Pui May is a community liaison manager affiliated with RIMBA. She has been working for the past year to facilitate community development initiatives at a Bateq village at the border of Taman Negara National Park. She was selected to receive a THF Travel Grant to participate in the Asian Regional Course on Promoting People-Centred Approaches to Conservation of Nature and Culture (PNC2019) in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. This is her report from the conference.
Ng Wai Pak is a senior conservation officer at Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). He works primarily on wetland and migratory bird conservation. He received a THF Travel Grant to attend the International Conference on Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds of the Asian Flyways (CWAMWAF) in Lonavla, India in November 2019. This is his report from the conference.
Nurul Iza Adrina received a THF Travel Grant to attend a Sound Analysis Workshop at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The training will assist her in her study of gibbon populations in Taman Negara National Park and Merapoh, Pahang which uses bioacoustics monitoring technology as a tool to understand the behaviour and ecology of Malaysia’s wild gibbons.
Aini Hasanah and Zaki Zainol, students at the School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, both received THF Travel Grants to attend the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), which took place in Kuala Lumpur from 21 to 25 July 2019.