High Conservation Values (HCV) in Malaysia are closely tied to natural forests and associated wetlands. Many HCVs in Malaysia are not confined to Protected Areas and occur over complex land management units – from large corporate owners to community smallholders. These HCVs are also an integral part of National and International efforts to recognise important natural landscapes in Malaysia, such as the Central Forest Spine (Peninsular Malaysia), the Heart of Borneo or Important Biodiversity Areas (IBA) across Malaysia. Similarly, there are a number of smaller site-specific efforts that connect to these landscape corridors (e.g., Kinabatangan, Sabah’s Corridor of Life).
Progress towards Central Forest Spine (CFS) ecological connectivity
Malaysia being one of the 12th most biodiverse countries in the world (based on the Fifth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity by Government of Malaysia) is facing significant threats from human intervention such as forest fragmentation, land conversion to agriculture, development, road construction etc.
Recognising the importance of conserving the forests for considerable ecosystem goods and services, the Government of Malaysia has committed to preserve a group of forest complexes known as the Central Forest Spine (CFS), the backbone of Peninsular Malaysia’s environmentally sensitive areas. Linking these fragmented forests will form a continuous forested habitat in hope to secure large forest cover for the survival of plants, wildlife, and people.
Although CFS is a great national plan, its implementation is inevitably more challenging than it might seem on paper. Firstly, CFS plan is huge in scale, covering four major forest complexes in Peninsular Malaysia – Banjaran Titiwangsa- Banjaran Bintang- Banjaran Nakawan; Taman Negara- Banjaran Timur; South- East Pahang; Chini and Bera Wetlands; and Endau-Rompin National Park. The scale alone makes it difficult to prioritize the allocation of resources. Secondly, as a pioneer plan, there is no previous experience in Malaysia or elsewhere in the region to use as a reference about what works and what doesn’t in the implementation of a project like this. Thirdly, with so many stakeholders involved, communication and coordination among them is always difficult and requires suitable platforms.
Fostering multi-stakeholder dialog from National to State
Funded by Yayasan Hasanah, Wild Asia collaborates with Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) to address some of these challenges. This project aims to produce management guidelines for three different corridors. It will also establish communication platform for different stakeholders both from government and non-government parties.
The first activity undertaken by the project was holding the “Expert Workshop on Stakeholder Perceptions and Spatial Priorities of the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan” in February 2018. There was active participation from 27 organizations from seven different sectors, including federal and state government agencies, NGOs, research institution, public universities, environmental consultants, and donor foundations who attended the workshop. All of the 55 participants contributed to the selection of the three corridors and establishment of the communication platform.
The next step will be site visits to understand issues on the ground of the chosen corridors. Stay tune for more updates!