As a leading internationally-affiliated conservation organisation, WWF-Malaysia began its financial year in July 2019 on a promising note, with its key plans carefully laid out to meet national-level objectives in-line with its global vision. While the first three quarters flowed smoothly as planned, the last quarter saw WWF-Malaysia facing the tumultuous Covid-19 pandemic like the rest of the world.
By the end of June 2020, over 10 million Covid-19 cases were recorded worldwide with more than half a million fatalities. The pandemic has continued to overwhelm the health and well-being of people as well as economies on a global level and its daunting impact on WWF-Malaysia’s advocacy, communication and social mobilisation initiatives have become evident. That said, the challenges brought about by Covid-19, though completely unprecedented, also gave rise to outstanding commitment and resolve from WWF-Malaysia’s team members. Over time, they have eased into the challenges posed by the pandemic, making the new norm of remote working not just an interim possibility, but a sustainable option promising commendable productivity, as demonstrated by some of the successful projects we had undertaken.
In response to the global call for a New Deal for Nature and People (NDNP), WWF-Malaysia has actively and successfully lobbied the Malaysian Government to advocate for the protection and restoration of nature. Notable efforts in this area include the call for stronger standards of the ongoing Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification review and the inclusion of the Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) initiatives into the 12th Malaysia Plan.
On the ground, our tiger conservation programme’s anti-poaching efforts in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex saw a 98% decline in snaring activities compared to FY18. We continue to coordinate with relevant authorities to patrol more than 100,000 hectares of the Royal Belum State Park in northern Perak. We also played a key role in advocating anti-poaching efforts to be ramped up in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah following the discovery of poaching signs from our biodiversity assessments. In Sabah, through collaboration with enforcement agencies, our joint patrolling and monitoring of hotspots has helped detect higher incidents of poaching. Through the placement of camera traps in strategic locations, we have successfully reduced illegal encroachment into forest reserves by 66%.
In Sarawak, we lent support to the State Government’s initiative to establish wildlife corridors that connect the two National Parks of Hose-Laga and Baleh. This move enables uninhibited movement of wildlife between these parks and the directly connected Indonesian Betung-Kerihun National Park.
Collaborations with corporate organisations have always played a crucial supportive role in ensuring the success of WWF-Malaysia’s conservation efforts. One such collaboration is our renewed partnership with Maybank to support our Malayan tiger conservation efforts for the next four years. WWF-Malaysia also partnered with CIMB Islamic Bank for a three-year commitment to support conservation efforts in Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu.
Our conservation work also extends through the broader corporate sector for advocacy efforts in sustainability, as seen through our collaboration as knowledge partner with CIMB Bank to organise The Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit 2019.
Through our Living Landscapes Programme in Sabah, we work with the palm oil industry to incorporate relevant measures along our three Pillars of Protect, Produce and Restore. The Protect pillar involves conservation of our wildlife habitats and natural ecosystems; the Produce pillar ensures palm oil production that complies with the principles of sustainability; and the Restore pillar calls for effective reforestation of degraded environments to serve as wildlife corridors. The fact that the Bukit Piton reforestation project now provides nesting sites for adult orangutans and their infants is a testimony of the crucial need for more of such active reforestation efforts.
As part of our efforts to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, we helped raise funds to support the island communities in Semporna that were badly hit by the pandemic through the WAPO (Women Association of Omadal Island) Love Basket campaign. Similarly, in Tun Mustapha Park, we collaborated with community partners, namely the Kekal Asli Tigabu Society and the Tigabu Representatives of Native Chiefs (Sabah Native Court), to arrange for emergency aid for the people of Tigabu Island. Under the Project Stampede at Belum-Temengor, we continued paying the rangers half their allowance although they could not be deployed for forest patrolling during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
As we cautiously negotiate the challenges of Covid-19 and reflect on FY20, we see that WWF-Malaysia has clearly risen to the challenge by demonstrating tremendous resilience. Moving forward, it is crucial that the commitment and efforts of WWF-Malaysia’s partners, supporters, donors and employees continue just as dynamically. This is largely to ensure the smooth running of WWF-Malaysia’s on-going plans and efforts as we work towards a New Deal for Nature and People.
Thank you to all those who were instrumental in making this a successful year for us. The WWF-Malaysia staff has demonstrated that with the right people, the right strategy and the right outlook, even the most formidable and disruptive of times can be overcome adeptly. I wish to acknowledge the contributions and support of government entities, corporate partners, donors, supporters, members of the media and public. Keep well and stay safe, and let us all strive to weather through these unprecedented times and build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.
YAM Tunku Ali Redhauddin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Chairman
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | 8 December 2020.