Protected Areas for Thriving Ecosystems
Protected areas are crucial for the conservation of natural habitats, species and genetic diversity. In Malaysia, there is much scope for the establishment of more protected areas and the improvement of existing ones. Historically, protected areas have often been referred to as the cornerstone of biodiversity. According to the forestry departments of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, the total forested area of the country in 2011 is estimated as 17.98 million hectares (MTIB, 2012) however; most are still not declared as protected areas.
Based on the analysis from the Master List of Protected Areas in Malaysia draft report, there are 438 protected areas in Malaysia. These encompassed both land and sea area with a total size of 4,084,675.3ha. Based on this, the terrestrial and marine protected areas coverage for Malaysia is 10.6% and 1.1%, respectively (NRE, in prep).
WWF-Malaysia has had a long history of involvement in protected area work, starting with Pulau Gaya (part of what is now the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Sabah) in 1975. One of our most significant protected area projects was the Perlis State Park Project (2000-2002) which led to the establishment of the approximately 4,500-hectare Perlis State Park.
Our current focus is to provide technical assistance to relevant managing authorities to improve the management effectiveness of existing parks such as the Royal Belum State Park in Perak, Gunung Stong State Park in Kelantan and the various national parks and protected areas in Sarawak and Sabah. In addition, we are also advocating for the gazettement of the Ulu Muda area in Kedah, the Fraser’s Hill area in Pahang and the numerous proposed national parks in Sarawak as a protected area.
WWF-Malaysia’s protected areas (PA) programme is divided into two landscapes. They are:
Our vision for for the Peninsular Malaysia PA programme is the establishment and maintenance of a viable, representative network of protected areas encompassing Peninsular Malaysia’s most threatened and biologically significant ecosystems, that contributes to human well-being and species conservation.
Sabah and Sarawak
Our vison for Sabah and Sarawak is that the forest ecosystems are protected and managed through the maintenance of viable, representative network of protected areas in the most threatened and biologically significant regions of the two states by 2020.
MTIB. 2012. Malaysian Timber Statistics 2009-2011. Malaysian Timber Industry Board, Kuala Lumpur.
NRE. In prep. Master List of Protected Areas in Malaysia. Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE).