The hills and the coast of Penang have always been important to Penang’s communities. The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve which encompasses these natural areas are a vital green lung to Penang Island; they provide valuable ecosystem services, spaces for recreation, and support the local economy. The nomination of the Penang Hill UNESCO Biosphere Reserve celebrates Penang’s distinctive natural and social landscapes and emphasizes an ongoing commitment to achieving a balance between nature conservation and development through sustainable use.
The Habitat Foundation and The Habitat Penang Hill are proud to be supporting the initiative of the Penang State Government to nominate the area shown in the map under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. This biodiversity-rich landscape comprises the hill forest of Penang Hill which extends all the way to the lowland dipterocarp forest and coastal zone within Penang National Park, and then a further 1.5 nautical miles into the sea. This area is protected within existing Forest Reserves, water catchment areas, and the park.
It comprises 12,481 hectares of which 7,285 hectares is on land, and 5,196 hectares is marine.
BIODIVERSITY AT OUR DOORSTEP
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve consists of important natural habitats with high species richness and diversity. Based on biodiversity data gathered to date, 2456 species of plants from 206 families are found here. Around 20 are on the IUCN Red List, including four that are listed as Critically Endangered.
More than 550 animal species have been recorded within the proposed Biosphere Reserve. Endemic and endangered fauna known from this area include marine species such as sea turtles and the shore-near Irrawaddy dolphin. On land, some of the important terrestrial species are the pangolin, slow loris, and the endemic Penang Island rock gecko.
In January 2016, The Habitat Penang Hill was opened. This world-class rainforest discovery and interpretation centre provides opportunities for panoramic views of the magnificent rolling hills of untouched forest from its iconic canopy walkways, as well as magical encounters with biodiversity along its nature trails.
PENANG HILL: A LINK TO THE PAST, A VANTAGE POINT TO TIMELESS RAINFOREST
In 1786, Penang Island became the first British acquisition on the Malay Peninsula. As the oldest British hill station in South-East Asia, for over a century, Penang Hill served as a retreat of elegant bungalows where people could escape the hot, humid, coastal lowlands with views into the pristine rainforest. Bel Retiro, the governor’s mansion was one of the first bungalows built on the hill in the early 1800s. Early naturalists would explore the surrounding forest to collect amphibians, reptiles, and insects, and plant specimens for herbariums and living collections. These would prove to become important first records of the biodiversity of Peninsular Malaysia.
Since it was first completed in 1923, the Penang Hill Funicular Railway has provided a means to escape to the refreshing cool of the hills. Since then, the train system has continued to improve in terms of speed, technology, and capacity. As in ages past, the train and its schedule continue to define the rhythm of daily life on the hill.
Today, the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) manages the operations of the historical funicular railway, the top station and surrounding areas on Penang Hill. PHC’s mission statement states that “PHC is committed to the preservation and stewardship of the natural and historical heritage of Penang Hill through Conservation, Education, Eco-tourism, Innovation, Safety and Green practices for future generations.”
Penang Hill Corporaion is leading the nomination of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve on behalf of the state government. PHC also runs programmes that showcase both the historical and natural heritage of the Hill.
THE HISTORIC BOTANIC GARDENS OF PENANG
The Penang Botanic Gardens was established in 1884 on a 29 hectare valley with a forest backdrop and a magnificent cascading waterfall. The gardens were planned and developed under the supervision of Charles Curtis, the first superintendent. The Gardens are an offshoot of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. As a tribute to his contributions to botanical exploration, several plants have been named after him.
The Gardens splendidly blend the botanical and horticultural aspects with the spectacular tropical rainforest landscape. They house an impressive collection of botanic specimens, both live and curated. It is an important site for research and education while being a much loved recreational area for local residents who frequent the Gardens in the early morning hours and evenings for light exercise or more strenuous hikes in the adjacent forest trails.
PENANG NATIONAL PARK: WHERE THE FOREST MEETS THE SEA
One of the crowning jewels of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is Penang National Park which showcases wonderful examples of wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs, and a unique sandy beach. Comprising only 1,213 hectares of land and sea, the park is an exceptionally rich and accessible biodiversity site. It is known to house 417 flora and 143 fauna species. Turtles nest on this beach all year round and there is a turtle sanctuary here which is managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. The meromictic lake within the park is the only one of its kind in Malaysia. It is composed of unmixed freshwater on top and seawater below, each supporting its own fascinating mini-ecosystem.
Muka Head Lighthouse, a 14-meter granite tower built by the British in 1883 is an example of built heritage within the park. The Lighthouse continues to serve as a beacon to assist incoming ships approaching Penang Island from the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.
The park makes an important contribution to conservation, environmental education, public recreation and Penang’s vibrant nature-based tourism economy.
SAFEGUARDING ESSENTIAL ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve provides ecosystem services that are essential to the well-being and quality of life for all Penang residents. Clear streams originating in the hills flow into the Teluk Bahang and Air Itam dams, which supply water to the whole of Penang Island. Environmental or ecosystem services such as watershed and water-catchment, carbon sequestration, soil stabilisation, climate change mitigation are hallmark features of the proposed reserve.
The mangroves of the coastal core zone of the PHBR are excellent pollutant purifiers and sinks for water borne pollutants from the inland areas. The mangrove soils and roots fringing the Penang National Park and adjoining areas trap polluted materials from inland activities, immobilize nutrients from the rivers flowing into it. The strong roots and buttress systems of the mangroves plants also form a natural buffer between land and sea helping to dissipate intense winds and wave action.
The marine component of the Biosphere Reserve harbours an abundant diversity of commercially important organisms, including bivalves, molluscs and fishes which are particularly important for the local economy.
SUSTAINING A VIBRANT SOCIAL LANDSCAPE AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve supports the livelihood of a coastal community who have a long tradition of tapping into the rich marine resources for their socio-economic needs. Artisanal fishing is carried out along the coast using traditional fishing gear and low powered engine boats. The fishermen also supplement their income by participating in the tourism industry as guides and boatmen.
A small agricultural community has resided on Penang Hill for generations. Mainly accessed from the Middle Station, their produce of fruits and vegetables are important to the food supply of Penang. Farmers here are also very keen to enhance the sustainability of their farms. There is considerable interest in adopting more environmentally-friendly water and soil technologies for their daily operations and participating in trials of alternative farming approaches.
Local people have also observed the impacts of climate change and are want to partner with others to ensure that their farms remain resilient and productive. This is something that can be explored as part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere programme.
A PLACE FOR STUDYING SUSTAINABILITY
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve has the potential to become an important learning site for trialing and introducing more sustainable practices to assure a balance between conserving and utilizing biodiversity. Ecosystem services directly benefit the local community in terms of employment in the tourism, fisheries, agricultural or forestry sectors. The presence of one of Asia’s top 50 universities, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), and other research institutes including the World Fish Centre and the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies in the vicinity of the PHBR, furnishes research and educational logistics to reconcile the conservation and socio-economic functions within the UNESCO Man and Biosphere framework.
Strong support from the Penang state government in sustainable issues is promoted through its Penang Green Agenda (PGA). This area can serve as a demonstration site for the utilisation of green technologies and dissemination of environmental innovations.
List of Agencies & Organisation involved
|1||PENANG HILL CORPORATION|
|2||THE HABITAT FOUNDATION|
|3||THE HABITAT PENANG HILL|
|4||UNIVERSITI SAINS MALAYSIA PULAU PINANG|
|5||PENANG ISLAND CITY COUNCIL|
|6||PENANG GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (PeGIS)|
|7||PENANG BOTANICAL GARDEN|
|8||PENANG FORESTRY DEPARTMENT|
|9||PENANG NATIONAL PARK|
|10||PENANG FISHERIES DEPARTMENT|
|11||FISHERIES RESEARCH INSTITUTE, BATU MAUNG|
|12||PENANG LAND OFFICE (NORTHEAST DISTRICT)|
|13||PENANG LAND OFFICE (NORTHWEST DISTRICT)|
|14||PENANG LAND AND MINE OFFICE|
|15||DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND NATIONAL PARKS|
|16||PENANG TOWN AND RURAL PLANNING DEPARTMENT|
|17||STATE HERITAGE DEPARTMENT|
|18||DEPARTMENT OF SURVEY AND MAPPING|
|19||DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS|
|20||DEPARTMENT OF IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE|
|21||PENANG WATER SUPPLY DEPARTMENT|
|22||PBA PULAU PINANG|
|23||PENANG GREEN COUNCIL|
|25||PNK TLK BAHANG|
|26||GEORGE TOWN WORLD HERITAGE INCORPORATED PULAU PINANG|
Penang Hill Corporation is leading this initiative of nomination of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme on behalf of the Penang State Government. The initiative is funded and supported by The Habitat Penang Hill and The Habitat Foundation.
- A national initiative to develop an Action Plan to conserve Malaysia’s Small ApesOctober 11, 2020The Habitat Foundation is honoured to support a new national initiative to develop an IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Small Apes in Malaysia being coordinated by the Malaysian Primatalogical Society (MPS). Over the coming months, key individuals, organizations, institutions and agencies from across Malaysia will be participating in thematic discussions to help provide an assessment of the conservation status of Malaysia’s gibbon species. They will assess the main threats and challenges and collaboratively develop a strategic Action Plan to ensure their conservation in the wild. The Action Plan is being developed with generous funding and technical assistance from the IUCN Primate Specialist Group – Section on Small Apes. To learn more, contact MPS at firstname.lastname@example.org. To register use this link http://bit.ly/IUCNSAMsia The initiative commenced on 22 September 2020 with the Inception Workshop which brought together diverse stakeholders to discuss the objectives of the Action Plan and the framework for consolidating inputs and developing recommendations. Dato’ Kadir bin Abdul Hashim, the Director of PERHILITAN opened the workshop on behalf of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Dr Ozwald Braken Tisen attended for Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Mr Peter Malim represented Sabah Wildlife Department. The session was ably moderated by Dr Ahmad Zafir of The Habitat Foundation. Dr Susan Lappan, Dr Nadine Ruppert and Aini Hasanah presented for the Malaysian Primatological Society. Special thanks to Dr Susan Cheyne, Vice-Chair of the PSG Section on Small Apes for joining us all the way from Oxford even though it was very early in the morning! Over the coming weeks, diverse stakeholders comprising primate specialists, protected area managers and staff, environmental NGOs, researchers, naturalists, and local knowledge holders will contribute data and insights to help us understand population distribution, habitat fragmentation and other serious threats. These and inputs from regional and international conservation experience will feed into more targeted conservation actions and potentially more financial support for all Malaysia’s five species of small apes....
- Strengthening capacity for biodiversity conservation impact among CBOs in Greater KLFebruary 25, 2020THF Conservation Grant Kota Damansara Community Forest (KDCF) Society was established in 2011 to serve as the official community counterpart to manage KDCF, 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 2016). The Society has also played a major role in building similar like-minded organisations. In late 2019, it was awarded a small grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) to implement a 20-month project to address urban forest loss in Greater KL and build collective capacity for biodiversity conservation and community engagement among community-based organisations (CBOs) and government authorities in Selangor and the Federal Territory. The GEF-SGP grant will be channelled towards activities 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. The project comprises four components: 1. Creating impact at the planning stage and government level Working with the municipal council, professional urban planners, and the forestry department to identify forested areas on state land, private land, and other reserves that can be conserved as urban greenspaces. Exploring opportunities to ensure their protection. 2. Capacity-building among organizations The project will nurture a strong network of CBOs to consolidate collective experience to offer technical assistance and support to stakeholders and agencies seeking to emulate successful models for community-based conservation and engagement. This platform will hold public meetings to elevate the need for urban green spaces at a national level and elicit firm governmental commitments to and programmes that support biodiversity conservation in urban environments. 3. Specialized training and development of resources and publications Sustainable forest trails: leveraging off the experience of Kota Damansara Community Forest and Bukit Kiara, the project will demonstrate the power of sustainable forest trails for engaging the public to appreciate and enjoy nature. The training will comprise a combination of theory sessions followed by practical experience from building a new trail. Bringing biodiversity back: the project will work with academics and key organizations to develop resources for ‘biodiversity gardens’ which would focus on plants that are important to support local species of birds, bees and butterflies. A publication will be developed as a ‘how to’ guide for schools as well as residential areas and a few schools will be enlisted to demonstrate the programme. Appreciating biodiversity: the project partners will organize several specialized-training activities to teach interested organizations on how to develop their skills as Nature Guide. Programmes would include macrophotography, herpetology, entomology, birding and forest flora among others. 4. Enlisting the next generation The forest classroom: in order to cultivate connection to nature, programmes would be run to familiarize teachers and parents with how they can organize learning programmes in the community forests among our network. Voluntarism and community service: organizations with experience in organizing volunteer activities will share their experience and networks in order to enlarge and streamline opportunities for school groups and students working towards service awards. Enlisting tertiary students: working with academics from local universities, and in conjunction with the Forestry Department, we would seek to develop a programme of internship opportunities in conjunction with this project so students may gain experience within our CBO network....
- Community-based mangrove restoration in Cherating and Chendor, PahangFebruary 24, 2020THF Conservation Grant Mangroves are an important nature-based solution to the current climate crisis. In addition to sequestering carbon they are vital and productive ecosystems that support local economic activity. This project invests in restoring mangroves in the wetlands of 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. Well-managed ecotourism to the Cherating mangroves demonstrates how economic benefits can responsibly flow from nature. Additionally, the mangrove swamp’s proximity to Club Med Cherating and other resorts draws a steady stream of visitors and provides them with an opportunity to learn about this important ecosystem. Nature-based tourism along Sungai Cherating: visitors are drawn to the propsect of experiencing magical firefly tours, but come away with new appreciation of mangrove ecosystems. Funding from The Habitat Foundation will strengthen Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Pahang to build a stronger collaborative framework between academic institutions, government agencies such as the Pahang Forestry Department, and the local community, who are stewards of this ecosystem. This project will involve ongoing volunteer mangrove planting activities and various initiatives to enhance the communication and outreach capabilities of MNS....
- Developing native tree nurseries with local Jahai in Royal Belum State ParkFebruary 24, 2020THF Conservation Grant The Habitat Foundation, together with the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Research Centre (TRCRC) and the Perak State Parks Corporation (PSPC), are piloting an innovative project engaging Jahai Orang Asli within Royal Belum State Park to establish native tree nurseries. Participating Jahai villagers from Kg. Sg, Klewang will collect the seeds of wild fruit trees, dipterocarps, and other target species from the forests adjacent to their village. Seedlings from rainforest species that have been germinated at TRCRC’s nursery. TRCRC to conduct ongoing training and mentoring for Jahai collectors from Kampung Sg. Klewang, who will lead the programme in their village. It will also go towards establishing the native tree nurseries, monitoring and caring for the seedlings as they germinate, and the initial purchase of saplings from the Jahai. The project will secure long-term sponsors to purchase saplings from the nurseries and plant them at sites identified as being important for restoring connectivity in the Central Forest Spine. In the past year, PSPC has made strong strides in integrating indigenous people into the operations of the park. A successful pilot project in Kg. Sg. Klewang could lead to the expansion of the native tree nurseries to other villages within the park if there is interest. Importantly, it could also present a dynamic model for local community participation elsewhere in Malaysia where Orang Asli live in the vicinity of key protected areas and wildlife corridors. This initiative could well demonstrate a framework for greater involvement of traditional peoples associated with protected areas while providing a viable option for improving local livelihoods. Jahai communities residing in Royal Belum State Park face many challenges in improving their livelihoods. The aim of the project is to provide a sustainable basis to earn supplementary income. THF and TRCRC team members on a site visit to ascertain local interest in participating in the project. Recently, to take advantage of the masting event occurring every five to seven years in dipterocarp forest, TRCRC organized several sessions to collect endangered/rare/threatened (ERT) dipterocarp seeds. These were purchased from the Orang Asli participating in this programme and will be germinated in their dedicated nursery within the Amanjaya Forest Reserve. Some of the seeds that were gathered by Jahai collectors during the masting event in October 2019. Watch their video here:...
- Conserving the migratory shorebirds and wetlands of Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda CoastFebruary 24, 2020THF Conservation Grant A Great Knot seen foraging on the Teluk Ayer Tawar mudflats bears a tag – a reminer that shorebird conservation is, by necessity, a global effort. Spanning an area of around 500 hectares, in the northern region of Seberang Perai, lies one of the few remaining intact wetlands in Penang. The Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda (TAT-KM) Coast is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA) and part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Its mangroves and mudflats annually attract shorebirds migrating from Siberia to Australia, providing a vital stopover along this epic journey—scientists and nature lovers having recorded flocks of 10,000 to 12,000 at a single site during the peak of migration. Shorebirds congregating at the edge of the Teluk Ayer Tawar mangroves during the peak of the migration around January This location, however, is also targeted for jetty construction and conversion to aquaculture farms, activities that may severely compromise the health of the mangroves and mudflats and the vital roles they play in enhancing fisheries, protecting coasts and sequestering carbon. 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. Follow Shorebirds Project of Peninsular Malaysia‘s conservation journey by following updates on their FB page This Sunday, come discover the unique beauty of the resilient shorebirds that visit our shores on their annual migration. This very special talk on "Migratory Shorebirds in a Changing Coastal Landscape" by Penang's very own Yeap Chin Aik will be held at the UAB Building, Gat Lebuh China on 23 June 2019 from 11 am. https://www.facebook.com/events/345743756130559/#thehabitatpenanghill #thehabitatfoundation #conserveeducateinspire #sensationalshorebirdsPosted by The Habitat Foundation on Jumaat, 21 Jun 2019 From afar migratory birds look the same, but there is a remarkable diversity of species. Taking inspiration from Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve, a model of successful wetland conservation, this project will bring new perspectives to managing the TAT-KM Coast. It is hoped that this will contribute to important decisions to protect these important ecosystems and safeguard fisheries resources. Watch her video here:...
- Song of the gibbons: an ethnoprimatological approach to conservation of the HylobatidaeFebruary 23, 2020THF Conservation Grant 2019/2020 A young Lar or White-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar). 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. Research on the effects of habitat degradation and human predation on gibbon populations in Malaysia is currently poor. There is little reliable information on gibbon population densities in protected areas like Taman Negara National Park as well as forest outside the park. The study will help to answer some of these questions and could lead to collaborations with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilian) to develop more targeted conservation actions. By enlisting the Bateq as researchers to glean additional insights into gibbon demography and behaviour, a more nuanced understanding of the human-alloprimate interface in the study site will be produced. Findings from this study will be applied to evaluate the conservation status of gibbons, ultimately improving their protection. Indigenous research assistance from the Bateq ethnic group have been able to accelerate understanding of gibbon ecology due to their intimate knowledge of the forest and its wildlife inhabitants. A THF Conservation Grant will complement existing project financing from both USM and a National Geographic Explorer Grant. These funds will primarily be used to engage Bateq field researchers and facilitate their travel to Penang for data analysis. It will also contribute to the cost of organizing a Sound Analysis Workshop at USM, run by trainers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. This workshop will strengthen capacity building among local researchers who are using bioacoustics monitoring technology. Dr Susan Lappan from Appalachian State University, United States, who is studying the behavioural ecology of gibbons is an advisor to this study. Dr Lappan is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Section on Small Apes and the country coordinator for the IUCN Malaysian Gibbon Action Plan....
- THF and Raleigh Kuala Lumpur recce Perlis State Park for future activitiesFebruary 23, 2020Perlis State Park (PSP) is located at the north-western part of Perlis, covering an area of 5,000-hectares. It comprises two forest reserves: Mata Ayer Forest Reserve and Wang Mu Forest Reserve. Apart from being located next to Kampung Wang Kelian (probably the northernmost village in Malaysia), it constitutes the Malaysian part of the 36-kilometre-long Nakawan Range. Thailand manages the range on its territory as Thale Ban National Park. Perlis State Park boasts stunning limestone caves, especially Gua Wang Burma and Gua Kelam, which is said to be the longest cave in Peninsula Malaysia (3.6-kilometres). The limestone caves there are at least 500 million years old! Its highest peak is Gunung Perlis, which is 733-metres above sea level and the northernmost point of Peninsular Malaysia. A THF Conservation Grant enabled the Perlis Forestry Department to construct a 10-kilometre sustainable trail to Gunung Perlis, following MyChangkul’s consultation. The construction of the trail was completed in early 2019 and was officially launched on 16 August 2019. In early January 2020, some of the THF team conducted a recce with Raleigh Kuala Lumpur to explore opportunities for collaboration and to further support the park managers in encouraging more visitors to the park. All parties are very positive about establishing a volunteer programme later this year where participants can connect with nature while engaging in community service through trail maintenance and adding visitor amenities along the trail. Although it was a long journey, with an eight-hour return trip, we had lots of fun hiking to the northernmost point of Peninsular Malaysia. If you are interested in visiting the park, or participating in volunteer activities there, we would love to hear from you. Do email us at email@example.com...
- The Habitat Team plants mangrove trees at Sungai AchehFebruary 23, 2020Every 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! Gathering in the Mangrove Forest Education Centre, we listened to Mr. Ilias Shafie, the chairman of PIFWA (Penang Inshore Fishermen’s Welfare Association) who shared how the organization came to into being. We learned about their ongoing efforts to help people understand the importance of mangroves for marine life, coastal protection and carbon sequestration. Wetlands are mainly threatened by pollution, overharvesting, and conversion for agriculture and aquaculture. In 1997, PIFWA began championing wetland restoration to reverse the impacts of coastal degradation and its negative impacts on local fisheries resources. They started by conducting surveys, and experiment with developing nurseries for mangrove seedlings of different species. Their reputation as community experts in mangrove rehabilitation has grown ever since. They now boast and aroboretum of as many as 14 species of mangrove trees, Replanting mangrove species used for soil protection, producing food products, and craft-making is now one of their major activities. Following the talk, the team headed down the boardwalk and into the mud, which was initially dry and compact, but eventually became wetter and deeper. After arriving at the planting site, they began digging suitable-sized holes before carefully removing the saplings from the polyethene nursery bags, placing them inside, compacting the mud around them and repeating the process until all 150 were planted. As a result of PIFWA’s activities, 347,900 mangroves have been replanted in Penang, with a 90% survival rate. Over the years, their experience has shown that rehabilitating wetlands, such as degraded mangroves, is beneficial in the long run as the improved ecosystem has regenerated disappearing species, thus reviving its biodiversity along with acting as a major carbon sink. Their mangrove replanting initiative also helps protect coastlines from erosion and damage by tidal surges, currents, rising sea level, and storm energy in the form of waves, storm surges and wind. Furthermore, it plays a role in supporting good water quality and marine life, including commercial fish and crustaceans, thus helping sustain local abundance of fish and shellfish populations. On the way back to the education centre, some of the staff spotted several species of wildlife including a Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus), white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Van Hasselt’s Sunbird (Leptocoma brasiliana), crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), green jewel bugs (chrysocoris stolli) and several species of fiddler crabs. A hearty meal of rice, curry fish, fried chicken, cooked vegetables and ulam with sambal, was served by the PIFWANITA, the women’s counterpart to PIFWA. The ladies contribute to their families’ livelihoods by catering for guests, and producing and promoting mangrove-based food products such as jams and herbal teas. Both organizations regularly travel to participate in exhibitions and environmental fairs where they talk about their experiences and promote their activities and products produced from mangroves. By raising the profile of Malaysia’s wetlands, and enlisting partners in local government as well as private sector companies operating in Penang, they have been pro-active in ensuring that these areas are constantly monitored leaving no opportunity for these wetlands to be illegally cleared or degraded. With persistence and curiosity, they have succeeded in cultivating experience and knowledge that is now actively shared with other coastal communities....
- How to registerOctober 12, 2019IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Please be informed that the registration for Dr Jane Goodall’s public talk is now closed. Thank you for your overwhelming support! Thank you for your positive response to the announcement that Dr Jane Goodall will be coming to Penang! This talk is open to the public and is co-organized by The Habitat Foundation and Roots & Shoots Malaysia with the support of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), School of Biological Sciences (USM), and Malaysian Primatological Society. Admission is free but it is important to register early as places are limited and will fill fast. Quotas are being assigned to ensure that students from all the different schools in Penang have the opportunity to attend. Please take a few minutes to register your attendance by filling-in this online Registration Form. Your registration will be considered complete once you have received an official online ticket from us. Due to the keen interest from the public and the limited number of seats available, unfortunately, not all registrations will be successful. Please continue to follow our FB event page for more announcements of the logistics closer the date. Note on school group registration: You are encouraged to submit your registrations before 31 Oct 2019. Quotas will be applied to ensure that students from a cross-section of local schools will be able to attend. Unfortunately, due to the limited seats available, not all registrations will be successful in securing a place. For more information and specific requests for support, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org...
- Project Pteropus – Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz of RimbaNovember 22, 2018Project Pteropus is a research initiative by Rimba Research to fill the gaps in our understanding of old world fruit bats such as flying foxes (Pteropus spp., Acerodon spp.) which are known to be important ecosystem service providers, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds over long distances. Once a common sight in certain parts of Malaysia, these remarkable flying mammals are a rare sight as numbers have declined with hunting and persecution. Project Pteropus aims is seeking a deeper understanding of bat ecosystem services and conflict situations with humans as an important first step to developing effective conservation solutions. Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz of the NGO Rimba is the lead researcher of Project Pteropus and the recipient of a 2018 Habitat Foundation research grant. She has been studying the ecology of fruit-visiting bats since 2013. In seeking insights into the ecosystem services they provide, she hopes to develop an effective conservation strategy to advocate for these misunderstood animals. We’ll be traversing the length and breadth of Peninsular Malaysia looking for Pteropus roosts and caves frequented by cave nectar bats (Eonycteris spelaea), and also talking to local people and orchard owners. This will allow us to assess the status of these pollinating fruit bats across the landscape, understand local people’s experiences and perceptions of fruit bats, and also identify potential sites for future studies on durian pollination and farmer-bat conflict. We hope to start engaging fruit farmers constructively as equal partners to explore collaborative solutions. – Rimba Conservation challenges confronting fruitbats Long reviled as pests, numbers of fruitbats or flying foxes, have declined steadily in recent years. They are hunted or chased off by farmers seeking to protect their crop of mangoes and durians. However, findings from research into the ecology of fruitbats has provided some fascinating information. The main food of fruit bats is the fruit of wild fig trees and they play an important ecological role as dispersers of seeds. Camera trap footage reveals that fruitbats do not actually eat durian flowers. They only feed on their nectar without damaging them. Flying foxes also play a central role in durian pollination. These observations have the potential to change the way farmers and local people view them and could provide a strategy to mitigate conflict and ensure the conservation of this species (and ensure the future supply of delicious durians!) Building a common understanding to map a way forward Rimba’s Project Pteropus will focus on the following actions:- establishing contact with fruit farmers collected baseline data on bat roosts and populations identifying suitable sites in Peninsular Malaysia for further research collecting social data on orchard management practices and farmers’ experiences with wildlife conducting outreach and awareness-raising activities The team will collect data on flying fox movement ecology and durian pollination networks. Findings on the economic evaluation of bat pollination of durian in Peninsular Malaysia will also be shared with industry, policymakers, and the general public. Visit Rimba’s facebook page and website for more information on this study. You can also read about Rimba’s research in an article published in The Guardian in February 2018. “World’s most controversial fruit may depend on giant bats for pollination.“ ...
- Langur Project Penang – Jo Leen YapNovember 3, 2018Langur Project Penang is an innovative citizen science project led by Jo Leen Yap, a promising young primatologist from Penang. The project is helping to educate the public to understand the challenges facing Penang’s captivating dusky langurs. Langur Project Penang has been studying the ecology and behaviour of dusky langurs in Penang since 2016. Dusky langurs spend most of their time feeding and sheltering on tall trees but they need to cross the road from the forest to the coast to forage for plants that are important to their diet. Langurs mainly cross by leaping from tree to tree (63%). However, if there is no tree connectivity, they will move along cable wires (34%) or run across the road (2.6%). Langur casualties occur when they accidentally fall when crossing on cable wires or get hit by fast-moving vehicles. Bridging the gap In order to help langurs adapt to living in human-impacted landscapes, LPP is spearheading a project to install canopy bridges in strategic locations to enable arboreal wildlife to cross safely. This pilot project will provide valuable information to advocate for sustainable road development not just in Penang but elsewhere in Malaysia. Living together The education and awareness campaign supported by The Habitat Foundation is a way to help the public understand the challenges faced by wildlife in urban settings and promote empathy and support for these species. In 2018, Jo Leen was recognised as one of the world’s 30 Under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education for her contributions. Visit Langur Project Penang’s facebook page for more information on their activities and programmes. Other 2018 Grant Recipients ...