Being the 64th nation to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity in June of 1994, Malaysia remains steadfast in implementing its commitment under the Convention.
Since the last reporting period in 2010, Malaysia has made much progress and taken many strides towards achieving effective biodiversity conservation, protection and management.
At Part One of this report, the overview of Malaysia’s species richness; both in flora and fauna validates and confirms Malaysia’s place in the world as being one of the most mega diverse countries. Various efforts are being pursued at the Federal and State levels to ensure that the multiple and complex ecosystems are conserved. Part One of the report include status and updates in accordance with the CBD thematic areas which consist of mountain biodiversity, inland waters biodiversity, marine and coastal biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity and forest biodiversity. Forest biodiversity has been given particular importance and contain more elaborated data; which is warranted in view of the vastness and importance of tropical forest biodiversity in the country as well as in the global context.
Malaysia continues on the well-established trajectory in relation to forest biodiversity conservation through the establishment of Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF)/Permanent Forest Estates (PFE). Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, using various legislative instruments constitute PRF/PFE as the primary in-situ means of protecting biodiversity. At the time of reporting, collectively Malaysia has recorded around 14.5 million hectares of PRF/PFE. Malaysia remains committed to maintain at least 50% of its land area under forest and tree cover in perpetuity. Recognition is also given to the concept of High Conservation Value Forests as well as the protection of critical ecosystem such as water catchments. In addition to the establishment of Permanent Forest Reserves, Malaysia also constitutes various networks of protected areas (both terrestrial and marine) in order to secure biodiversity protection. These in a nutshell include Wildlife Sanctuaries/Reserves, National Parks and State Parks, Nature Reserves, and Protection Forests within Permanent Forests Reserves.
Marine protected areas despite small in its overall coverage in hectares (1.4%) in comparison to Malaysian waters of about 453,186 km2, nevertheless harbours great marine biodiversity ranging from coral reefs to marine mammals such as dugongs. The proposed gazettal of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park in the state of Sabah is estimated to contribute over 1.0 million hectares of marine protected areas in the nation.
Malaysia has since the last reporting period picked up the pace in relation to mammal protection. More effective protection of species from a regulatory standpoint was achieved through the passing of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 which repealed the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972. This new stronger and more punitive law was introduced to act as a deterrent to wildlife offences particularly in relation to illegal wildlife trade. Peninsular Malaysia also embarked on its first ever Red List for Mammals using indicators and criteria suited to the local context. Commitment to species conservation is further strengthened through various action plans. Since the last reporting period, a number of action plans have been developed and currently being implemented namely the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan (NTCAP), The National Elephant Conservation Action Plan (NECAP) for Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang utan Action Plan 2012-2016, and the Elephant Action Plan for Sabah 2012-2016. When fully implemented, these actions plans are expected to halt the decline and further loss of the species, recover species populations and prevent habitat degradation. The status and trends of marine turtles conclude Part One of the report.
Part Two of this report highlights and outlines a number of key milestones in relation to the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP), otherwise known in Malaysia as the National Policy on Biological Diversity 1998. Macro level mainstreaming approaches have been prescribed through the document known as the Common Vision on Biodiversity primarily positioned as the guiding tool for policy makers and planners in relation to biodiversity planning and management. With regard to development planning and the categorisation of areas for development and for conservation purposes, the National Physical Plan 2 (NPP-2) was adopted in 2010. The document guides development at all levels of planning and many of the measures for sustainable development are to be translated in Structure and Local Plans.
The policies developed since the last reporting include the National Policy on Climate Change, The National Water Resources Policy, the National Green Technology Policy, The National Agro Food Policy, the National Action Plan for Peatlands and the National Action Plan on the Prevention, Eradication and Containment of Invasive Alien Species in Malaysia.
Since the last reporting, a number of laws have been enacted and some are being developed. These include the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, now in operation as the latest wildlife protection framework in Peninsular, the development of the draft national legal framework on Access to Biological Resources and Benefit Sharing and amendments to the Environmental Quality Act 1974. In 2012, Malaysia has for the first time established environmental courts with the objective of providing swifter adjudication of environmental offences.
Part Three of the report highlights Malaysia’s effort in updating its National Policy on Biological Diversity 1998. The second generation NBSAP, is expected to be ready before the end of 2014, will incorporate the Aichi Biodiversity Targets within the national context. Part Three of the report showcases multiple initiatives that contribute towards the implementation of a number of key Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The initiatives highlighted include the Central Forest Spine Master Plan, whereby its implementation will ensure that that key forest complexes that harbour much of Peninsular Malaysia’s biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is intact. The Heart of Borneo Initiative covering approximately 200,000 km2 of ecologically connected forests in Malaysia, (represented by states of Sabah and Sarawak amounting to 61,000 km2), Indonesia ( Kalimantan) and Brunei contributes to several Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Various goals and programs under this trans-boundary agreement is implemented in Malaysia by the States of Sabah and Sarawak through State level Strategic Plans and make significant contributions towards forest biodiversity, ecosystem and species protection.
Marine biodiversity related initiatives equivalent to the Heart of Borneo Initiative is the Coral Triangle Initiative which Malaysia committed to since 2009. Although primarily vesting it efforts within the Sulu Sulawesi Seas off the coast of Sabah, the CTI’s primary goals serve to implement a suite of actions related to biodiversity protection particularly in such areas as establishment and management of marine parks, sustainable fisheries, marine enforcement as well as awareness building.
The 5th National Report also highlights a number of achievements in relation to traditional knowledge documentation. Largely led by research institutions and state level biodiversity centres, progress towards documentation of traditional knowledge are executed with the participation and consultation of traditional knowledge holders.
Lastly, the 5th National Report is drawn to close by highlighting key lessons learned from the implementation of the Convention in the country.