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Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Liew T.-S.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Price L.,22 Albemarle Lodge | Clements G.R.,Rimba | Clements G.R.,University of Malaysia, Terengganu
Tropical Conservation Science | Year: 2016

In a world of limited resources and so many species and habitats in need of protection, informed prioritization is essential. However, we cannot prioritize effectively if historical and current information regarding a particular habitat or species remains scattered. Several good platforms have been created to help users find, use and create biodiversity information. However, good platforms for sharing habitat information for threatened ecosystems are still lacking. Limestone hills are an example of threatened ecosystems that harbor unique biodiversity, but are facing intensifying anthropogenic disturbances. As limestone is a vital resource for the construction industry, it is not possible to completely halt forest degradation and quarrying in developing countries such as Malaysia, where 445 limestone hills have been recorded in the peninsula to date. As such, there is an urgent need to identify which hills must be prioritized for conservation. To make decisions based on sound science, collating spatial and biological information on limestone hills into a publicly accessible database is critical. Here, we compile Malaysia’s first limestone hill GIS map for 445 limestone hills in the peninsula, based on information from geological reports and scientific literature. To assist in conservation prioritization efforts, we quantified characteristics of limestone hills in terms of size, degree of isolation, and spatial distribution patterns. We also assessed the degree of habitat disturbance in each limestone hill in terms of buffer area forest degradation and quarrying activity. These data are stored in a KMZ file and can be accessed through the Google Earth interface. Rather than being viewed as a final output containing basic limestone hill information, this database should be regarded as a foundational platform for users to collect, store, update and manipulate spatial and biological data from limestone hills to better inform decisions regarding their management. © 2016, Mongaby.com e-journal. All rights reserved.

Hedges L.,University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus | Hedges L.,University of Malaysia, Terengganu | Hedges L.,University of Selangor | Lam W.Y.,Rimba | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2015

To date, leopards (Panthera pardus) in Peninsular Malaysia have been overlooked by large carnivore researchers. This is in part due to the country's unique population of individuals that are almost all melanistic, which makes it nearly impossible to identify individuals using camera traps for estimating leopard density. We discovered a novel modification to infrared flash camera traps, which forces the camera into night mode, that allows us to consistently and clearly see the spots of a melanistic leopard. The aim of this project was 1) to determine the feasibility of identifying melanistic leopards with confidence using infrared flash camera traps, and 2) to establish a density estimate for the leopard population in a wildlife corridor in Malaysia using maximum likelihood and Bayesian spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) models. Both SECR approaches yielded a leopard density of approximately 3 individuals/100 km2. Our estimates represent the first density estimate of leopards in Malaysia and arguably, the world's first successful attempt to estimate the population size of a species with melanistic phenotypes. Because we have demonstrated that melanistic leopards can be monitored with confidence using infrared cameras, future studies should employ our approach instead of relying on scars or body shape for identification. Ultimately, our approach can facilitate more accurate assessments of leopard population trends, particularly in regions where melanistic phenotypes largely occur. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.

Aziz S.A.,WWF Malaysia | Clements G.R.,Rimba | Clements G.R.,James Cook University | Clements G.R.,University of Malaya | And 3 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2013

For conservation to be effective in forests with indigenous peoples, there needs to be greater recognition of indigenous customary rights, particularly with regards to their use of natural resources. Ideally, legislation regulating the use of natural resources should include provisions for the needs of both indigenous peoples and biodiversity. In reality, however, legislative weaknesses often exist and these can result in negative impacts, either on indigenous peoples' livelihoods, their surrounding biodiversity, or both. Here, our case study demonstrates why conservationists need to pay greater attention to natural resource legislation affecting indigenous peoples' rights. Apart from examining relevant laws for ambiguities that may negatively affect biodiversity and livelihoods of indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia (known as the Orang Asli), we also provide supporting information on actual resource use based on questionnaire surveys. In order to address these ambiguities, we propose possible legislative reconciliation to encourage policy reform. Although there are positive examples of conservationists elsewhere adopting a more inclusive and participatory approach by considering the needs of indigenous peoples, greater recognition must be afforded to land and indigenous rights within natural resource laws for the benefit of indigenous peoples and biodiversity. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Giam X.,Princeton University | Giam X.,National University of Singapore | Clements G.R.,James Cook University | Clements G.R.,University of Malaya | And 3 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

Traditional biodiversity conservation approaches emphasize the protection of pristine forests. However, it has become increasingly difficult to secure large tracts of undisturbed forests, particularly in the developing tropics. This has led some conservation scientists and organizations to explore the conservation potential of human-modified habitats, such as selectively logged forests. On the other hand, other scientists have highlighted the perils of overselling the conservation value of degraded habitats and advocate for re-focusing of efforts and resources on protecting primary forests. While there are merits to both contentions, we argue that the "back to wilderness" paradigm has limited relevance in the Sundaland region. This is because: (1) primary forest only makes up a small minority of the remaining forest in the region and most of it is already protected by law; (2) vast areas of selectively logged forest are still susceptible to plantation conversion; and (3) selectively logged forest are important habitats for some of the world's most endangered species. To meet both conservation and development goals, we suggest that tracts of selectively logged forest be assessed for their ecological value and forests of high conservation value be prioritized for better protection through their inclusion into existing protected area networks and/or improved sustainable forestry management. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Wijedasa L.S.,Singapore Botanic Gardens | Sloan S.,James Cook University | Michelakis D.G.,University of Edinburgh | Clements G.R.,Rimba | And 2 more authors.
Remote Sensing | Year: 2012

Landsat can be used to map tropical forest cover at 15-60 m resolution, which is helpful for detecting small but important perturbations in increasingly fragmented forests. However, among the remaining Landsat satellites, Landsat-5 no longer has global coverage and, since 2003, a mechanical fault in the Scan-Line Corrector (SLC-Off) of the Landsat-7 satellite resulted in a 22-25% data loss in each image. Such issues challenge the use of Landsat for wall-to-wall mapping of tropical forests, and encourage the use of alternative, spatially coarser imagery such as MODIS. Here, we describe and test an alternative method of post-classification compositing of Landsat images for mapping over 20.5 million hectares of peat swamp forest in the biodiversity hotspot of Sundaland. In order to reduce missing data to levels comparable to those prior to the SLC-Off error, we found that, for a combination of Landsat-5 images and SLC-off Landsat-7 images used to create a 2005 composite, 86% of the 58 scenes required one or two images, while 14% required three or more images. For a 2010 composite made using only SLC-Off Landsat-7 images, 64% of the scenes required one or two images and 36% required four or more images. Missing-data levels due to cloud cover and shadows in the pre SLC-Off composites (7.8% and 10.3% for 1990 and 2000 enhanced GeoCover mosaics) are comparable to the post SLC-Off composites (8.2% and 8.3% in the 2005 and 2010 composites). The area-weighted producer's accuracy for our 2000, 2005 and 2010 composites were 77%, 85% and 86% respectively. Overall, these results show that missing-data levels, classification accuracy, and geographic coverage of Landsat composites are comparable across a 20-year period despite the SLC-Off error since 2003. Correspondingly, Landsat still provides an appreciable utility for monitoring tropical forests, particularly in Sundaland's rapidly disappearing peat swamp forests. © 2012 by the authors.

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