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Panda News 2022: 

January to March

 

WWF-Malaysia Annual Review 2021

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What a year it has been for WWF-Malaysia! We had many conservation wins from July 2020 to June 2021, despite being surrounded by uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team rose to the challenge each time - constantly adapting and ensuring that we achieve our conservation goals. From making great progress in protecting endangered species to empowering societies - all our accomplishments in the past financial year have been immortalised in our 2021 Annual Review!

 

Now available in digital and print form, the annual review can be accessed here or collected from WWF-Malaysia's office in Petaling Jaya Commercial Center. A round of applause to everyone for making a difference through conservation!

Highlights of Earth Hour 2022, 8:30PM Saturday 26 March

Seberang Perai, Iskandar Malaysia, and Petaling Jaya have been selected as national finalists in the One Planet City Challenge in conjunction with Earth Hour 2022. This initiative began a decade ago to encourage cities to share best practices in climate mitigation and develop adaptation plans to build a sustainable and climate-safe future.

Other Participating Territories and Cities:

  • Majlis Bandaraya Kuching Selatan

  • Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah

  • Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam

  • Majlis Perbandaran Padawan, Sarawak

  • Selangor State Government

  • Sibu Municipal Council

Landmarks Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower, Pavilion KL and Bukit Jalil, as well as Menara Maybank switched off lights for Earth Hour.

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Photo courtesy of Moving Walls

WWF-Malaysia’s Earth Hour key visual, with 50th Anniversary logo and CTA website, was posted on ASTRO’s and Astro Kasih's FB, IG and TW, which cumulatively have about 2 million followers.


WOW Media and Moving Walls sponsored WWF-Malaysia’s Earth Hour 15-seconder (last frame with CTA Pledge for Nature here) on billboards in the following locations on 26 March 2022:

  • Jalan Genting Klang (photo)

  • Taman Sri Rampai

We generated one TV interview and nine articles for Earth Hour 2022


Six KOLs – with more than 3.4 million total social media followers -- supported Earth Hour 2022 with videos encouraging everyone to support Earth Hour and join the Earth Hour Virtual Run for Nature – 50th Anniversary Edition: Dr Izzar Anwari, Azura Zainal, Mat Dan, Rod Monteiro, Alena Murang and Ummi Nazeera

Scouts Association of Malaysia supported Earth Hour 2022 in the following ways:

  • Switch off lights event at KL HQ

  • Shared with the Scouts Network -- about 50,000 across Malaysia -- to switch off lights in support of Earth Hour and Pledge for Nature here

  • Online Earth Hour and protect nature themed poster competition from 26 March to 8 April 2022

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Photo courtesy of of the Scouts Association of Malaysia

The Earth Hour Virtual Run for Nature – 50th Anniversary Edition (Registration closes 22 April) had more than 1,800 registrants as of 11 April.

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Solid Waste Management Booklet

Natural Resources and Environment Board Sarawak, Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, and WWF-Malaysia recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement to jointly develop and publish a solid waste management and environmental education book for primary schools, particularly for Kelab Pencinta Alam Sekitar (PALS Club) members. 

The book will be the first of its kind in the state as it teaches the younger generation fundamental knowledge and best practices in solid waste management and environmental sustainability. The activity booklet contains ten chapters with 12 activities. A digital copy of one chapter per month will be available for download from March 2022 to December 2022. Click here to view.

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Eco Champion Awards 2022

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We have officially concluded our mission to find the 2022 WWF-Malaysia Eco Champions. They were chosen based on their exciting proposals to tackle net zero emissions by planting trees, engaging with communities on conservation, waste management projects, and many more. WWF-Malaysia will reward these winners with a seed grant for their projects, running from April to June 2022. Stay tuned for the updates on our website and social media.

This year, we celebrate 50 years of conservation work in Malaysia. Over the years, we have collaborated with government agencies, businesses, communities, NGOs, and individual supporters to protect nature. We are pleased to recognise these Eco Champions that will continue shaping a future where people and nature thrive together. Click here to read more.
 

WWF-Malaysia ESD participates in high impact research on Environmental Education

Amanah Lestari Alam (ALAM) in partnership with Pertubuhan Pendidikan Pembangunan Lestari Selangor is conducting a nationwide study to determine the status of Environmental Education/Education for Sustainable Development infusion and integration into the formal education system (curriculum and co-curriculum) in Malaysian schools.

We hope the findings will help the Ministry of Education re-evaluate relevant sections of the education system to align with the Sustainable Development Goals and build a generation of young leaders who understand that humanity’s health depends on nature’s well-being. 

Three cities take on One Planet City Challenge (OPCC)

We are pleased to share that Seberang Perai, Iskandar Malaysia, and Petaling Jaya have been selected as national finalists in the OPCC - an initiative to encourage cities to share best practices in climate mitigation and develop adaptation plans to build a sustainable and climate-safe future. Over the years, almost 600 cities from 53 countries and five continents have participated.


Committed to building an environment that enables people to thrive in balance with nature, the selected cities embarked on ambitious measures to reduce electricity consumption, promote energy-efficient buildings, upgrade open spaces to improve mobility, connectivity, accessibility, etc. The national finalists will also participate in the We Love Cities campaign, which aims to bridge better communication between city officials and the citizens they represent on climate and sustainability issues. For more information and updates, visit panda.org/opcc.

Sabah commits to gazetting Darvel Bay as a Marine Protected Area

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© Marine Programme  / WWF-Malaysia

Underwater site recce in Lahad Datu

in late September 2021

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah announced their commitment to gazette Darvel Bay in December 2021, which is targeted for early 2023. WWF-Malaysia actively supports Sabah Parks’ efforts to achieve the gazettement through public consultations, a scientific expedition and the development of a park management plan.

Following the announcement, a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is currently being finalised to formalise the collaboration between Sabah Parks and WWF-Malaysia. An underwater site recce and initial engagements with stakeholders of the proposed Darvel Bay Park was carried out from September to November 2021, which contributed to the publication of a baseline report, ‘The Biological and Socio-economic status of Darvel Bay’.

Efforts to gazette Darvel Bay is in line with the Sabah Government’s target to gazette and protect 13% of Sabah's marine and coastal areas by 2025.

 

995 hawksbill nests protected in 2021

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© Jürgen Freund / WWF 

Hawksbill turtle swimming through a reef

A total of 995 hawksbill nests were relocated to hatcheries during the 2021 nesting season at key turtle nesting sites in Melaka, the highest ever recorded in the state. WWF-Malaysia attributes this success to the turtle guardians - local communities who diligently carry out patrols to minimise the poaching of turtle eggs. 

WWF-Malaysia works collaboratively with the Department of Fisheries to select and train turtle guardians in monitoring efforts. Not only are these environmental stewards protecting marine turtles, they are also securing their own livelihoods, wellbeing and culture. While the arrival of COVID-19 and ensuing government-mandated movement restrictions did contribute to low poaching rates, strategic patrolling efforts further deterred the unlawful activities, resulting in a significant reduction of poaching to 3.9% of the total number of nests in 2021. This was made possible due to the close relationship among the fisheries authority, WWF-Malaysia and the turtle guardians.
 

Fisheries Improvement Projects in Sabah covers

a total of 500,000 ha

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© Mazidi Abdul Ghani / WWF-Malaysia

Two Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIP) in Sabah – Yellowfin Tuna FIP in Mabul Island, Semporna and Reef Fishes FIP in Tun Mustapha Park, Kudat – were implemented, covering a total of 500,000 hectares. These projects contribute to the sustainable fisheries management of two of Sabah’s seascapes.

 

Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) brings together multiple fishery stakeholders including traditional fishers, industrial fishers, the private sectors, fishery managers, researchers, and NGOs to collaborate on improving fishing practices through the sustainable management of marine resources. Through these projects, WWF-Malaysia aims to improve Malaysia’s fisheries management, thus benefiting the fisheries industries and coastal communities.

Water Wednesday Talk Series for World Water Day 2022

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One of the posters for a Water Wednesday talk series.

In conjunction with the World Water Day 2022, WWF-Malaysia’s Freshwater Conservation (Klang Valley) team organized the Water Wednesday talk series. Held throughout the month of March, the series comprised four weekly sessions live-streamed on WWF-Malaysia Facebook page. The first session about ‘Water footprint and water consumption pattern’ featured a Universiti Teknologi Malaysia professor and our colleague Carys Wong. In the following session, an expert from the Global Environment Centre and three colleagues from WWF Canada and WWF Zambia talked about the concept of ‘Citizen science’.

 

In the third week, the series highlighted ‘Pollution of water sources in Malaysia’ which provided a legal perspective by a water quality and modeling specialist; as well as the well-being angle by a National Malaysia University professor. In the final session which focused on the public’s role in ‘nature-based solutions’, our colleague Kelvin Diong as well as two experts from Putrajaya Corporation and Malaysian Nature Society shared their insights and opinions.

 

3km Earth Hour Fun Walk 2022

Freshwater Conservation (Setiu Wetlands) team in collaboration with its strategic partners, Terengganu Science & Creativity Centre and CIMB Islamic Bank had successfully organised the 3km Earth Hour Fun Walk 2022 event. This half-day pocket programme was held to celebrate Earth Hour 2022, with the theme of ‘Shape Our Future’. The event also aimed to educate the public on global warming, illegal logging and environmental carrying capacity, especially for communities in Setiu, Terengganu. Supported by many state- and district-level agencies, it also gathered and encouraged the local communities’ participation in the planning, preparation and execution of the whole event. 

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Photo courtesy of the

Terengganu Science & Creativity Centre

Other pocket programmes that were carried out were an exhibition by agencies, Dig and Plant, Light Off 60+ Earth Hour gimmick, video presentation, quizzes and a talk session featuring speakers from WWF-Malaysia and the United Nations Development Programme. A total of 63 participants joined the fun walk, making the total number of participants for all the events to exceed more than 150.

Educating the Local Community on Gelam Forests

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© Freshwater Conservation / WWF-Malaysia 

Getting to know more about the Gelam tree.

The Freshwater Conservation (Setiu Wetlands) team with a group of researchers from the East Coast Environmental Research Institute (ESERI) from UniSZA organised a two-day workshop on Gelam forests. It was aimed to provide a suitable platform for the Setiu Wetlands communities to enhance their knowledge and appreciation of the importance and potential of Gelam forests as an alternative to support their livelihood and wellbeing. The participants explored Gelam sustainable products such as Gelam oil, soap and fertiliser, as well as their scientific benefits through sharing sessions by ESERI, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Terengganu Forestry and the community members from Kelab Belia Padang Jejawi. 

The next day, the participants learned about the process of plucking Gelam leaves and visited a community-managed processing factory that extracts Gelam oil. It is hoped that this workshop would help more people appreciate the Gelam forest for its sustainability and economic values.

CA|TS recognized as crucial to

tiger conservation management

After several years of advocating the setup of a tiger task force, the inaugural meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Task Force (MyTTF) was held in January this year, chaired by the Prime Minister. The meeting discussed the “9 Strategic Actions for Conservation of Harimau Malaya” in which CA|TS was referred to.   

 

In February and March, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) invited WWF-Malaysia’s Tiger Conservation Programme to present on CA|TS to the Perak, Terengganu and Pahang MyTTF Technical Committees respectively. This indicates a growing interest in CA|TS and recognition of its relevance to tiger conservation management.

 

About CA|TS

The purpose of CA|TS is to help stabilise and rebuild tiger populations. The aim of CA|TS is not to develop a new management effectiveness system rather, it is to tell if an area attains the standards needed to conserve tigers.

 

Globally, 128 sites across 7 countries have been registered of which 21 sites in Nepal, Russia, India and Bhutan have been accredited.

 

Royal Belum was registered for CA|TS in 2017, the first site in Southeast Asia to adopt the standards. In its third site assessment conducted in 2021, 71% of the standards were reached, as compared to only 48% in the first assessment done in 2018. Royal Belum State Park showcases a good example of how CA|TS is being used as a tool to monitor and improve its management.

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New WWF Study Show Smaller Bornean elephant estimates

in Central Sabah

WWF’s recent study ​​titled “Recent Estimate of Asian Elephants in Borneo Reveals a Smaller Population” estimates the Bornean elephant population in Central Sabah to be 387 elephants with a density of 0.07 individuals per km2. The area surveyed lies within the Central Sabah elephant range, and therefore the estimate only includes elephants occurring in Ulu Segama, Malua, Kuamut, Gunung Rara, Kalabakan, and Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserves.

If other areas of the Central Sabah elephant range such as parts of the Sapulut Forest Reserve, Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve, and Kalabakan Forest Reserve are included, the total estimated elephant population in Central Sabah is approximately 451 individuals. These estimates are substantially smaller than what was previously estimated in another published study conducted in 2008 by Alfred et al. (2010).

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© Mazidi Abd Ghani / WWF-Malaysia 

Bornean elephants in an oil palm plantation

The new estimate strengthens the case to continue to keep the Bornean elephant as a totally protected species and any future decisions on population management should now carefully consider how it may impact the long-term viability of elephant populations.

 

Malaysia Operational IUCN Green List Handbook Launched

The IUCN Expert Assessment Group for the Green List (EAGL) and its implementing partner (IP) released the Malaysia Operational IUCN Green List Handbook in February, which will serve as a handy guide to the implementation of the IUCN Green List in Malaysia.

 

The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas (PCA) Programme was launched in 2014 to recognise and promote fairly governed and effectively and equitably managed protected and conserved areas around the world. 

 

It is hoped that this handbook will help to ensure a smooth implementation of the IUCN Green List in sites in Malaysia!

Living Landscape Approach Exhibited at

Palm Oil Conference

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© Max Donysius / WWF-Malaysia 

Dr Cheryl sharing about The Living Landscapes Approach to palm oil players at POC2022

WWF-Malaysia participated as an exhibitor at the annual international event, the 33rd Palm and Lauric Oils Conference and Exhibition (POC2022) at Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur in March, which was attended by palm oil and edible oils industry professionals. Organised by Bursa Malaysia Derivatives (BMD), this event was also attended by key decision-makers and thought leaders in the global edible oils industry. 

 

Sabah Landscapes Programme’s Manager (Business and Industry Engagement), Max Donysius and Elephant Conservation manager, Dr Cheryl Cheah shared with delegates about the Living Landscapes Approach and the work of the Sabah Landscapes Programme team. 

We are thrilled to have our landscape approach be part of the international dialogue within the palm oil industry. The Living Landscapes Approach enables palm oil players to support wildlife conservation, such as elephants and orangutans, beyond certification. 

Apas Balung Plantation's Journey Towards RSPO

Sabah Landscapes Programme has collaborated with state-owned palm oil company, Sawit Kinabalu to come up with a video production to showcase a video tour of Apas Balung Estate and Plantation in Tawau, Sabah as an example of how oil palm plantations can be managed more sustainably.

WWF-Malaysia through the Sustainable Oil Palm Team (SPOT) under the Sabah Landscape Programme has been working with palm oil companies including Sawit Kinabalu towards RSPO certification as we believe businesses also have a crucial role to play in supporting conservation efforts and being part of the solution.

New project site rapid recce and socialization

with potential partners for GLUS

Sarawak Conservation Programme is embarking on a new conservation work - a corridor for orangutans in Gunung Lesung-Ulu Sebuyau (GLUS) in Sri Aman division. This work aims at linking protected areas for orangutans and helping to enhance the community's livelihood, so that people and nature can thrive.

To kick start the work, our team held a rapid site visit and followed by the first project socialization session in Sri Aman in February. About 20 people from government agencies and community representatives attended the socialization session that was chaired by Sri Aman Resident Datu Indit Bangai. Among others, they discussed potential areas of collaborations and activity coordinations for the new site and coming up with a project framework with different partners.

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© Zora Chan / WWF-Malaysia 

Checking out the secondary forests near Kampung Menuang, one of the villages inside the project area.

 

Connecting with rural communities

Holding a video call is not a big deal these days but for rural dwellers in far-flung Ulu Katibas, Song, Sarawak, it is a big deal. With travel and work in the field severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years, Sarawak Conservation Programme had to adapt and think outside the box on how we could continue to engage with our rural partners, specifically with two longhouses, called Rumah Peter and Rumah Dagum.

 

Our solution? WWF-Malaysia facilitated the installation of a prepaid satellite communication platform for these two longhouses. The aim - to improve telecommunications so our work with them could continue despite the onslaught of Covid-19. 

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© WWF-Malaysia 

Screenshot of the video call.

And so, on 23 February 2022, WWF-Malaysia had the first virtual call with Song District Officer, Jackline August, Song Administration Officer, Grace Anyie Jock, Rumah Peter headman Peter Jabat and Rumah Dagum headman Dagum Sangai to discuss plans for 2022 and how to move forward. 

 

Establishing connectivity might look like one small step for urban dwellers, but for remote communities, it is one giant leap towards the future.

Strengthening collaborations with MPB

On 22 February, WWF-Malaysia paid a courtesy visit to the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) headquarters in Kuching, Sarawak. The team had a fruitful meet up with MPB Acting Director-General Jenny George and the board’s senior officers, on the general updates of the sustainable pepper project in Ulu Katibas, Song, and plans for this year. We look forward to continue our collaborations with MPB in achieving environmental sustainability in the pepper industry.

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© Grace Lim / WWF-Malaysia 

WWF-Malaysia Senior Project Manager Cynthia Chin (third right) presenting a copy of The Value of Nature: Balancing Conservation, Development, and People in the Heart of Borneo coffee table book to the director-general.