As a mega-diversity country, Malaysia has made a commitment to safeguarding its ecosystems and irreplaceable biodiversity through a system of well-managed PAs. Presently, there are several state and federal agencies and departments responsible for PAs with differing capacities and resources to perform this role. The challenge for the nation is to find synergies to enhance existing capacity and institutions responsible for parks and other protected areas in line with international benchmarks. Building a common National Framework for its PA system is a key building block of this aspiration.
Over the past year, significant headway has been made in advancing the concept of a National Framework for protected areas in Malaysia. Through several consultations and two national workshops, key state and Federal agencies responsible for PAs have come together to build consensus on the way forward. These meetings have served to promote understanding of the benefits of a National Framework and assure state agencies that a common system would neither undermine nor adversely impact their existing protected area institutions or legislation.
The recent stakeholder workshop held in Putrajaya between 29-30 June 2016 was well attended by more than 35 participants and has helped to build consensus on important elements of the National Framework such as terms definitions, approaches to harmonizing legislation, branding and messaging, and enhancing coordination among key agencies. Through the discussions, the majority of the participants have come to see that a National Framework could provide a common platform for strengthening PA management and enhancing access to the resources, knowledge, training and technology, and awards and incentives. The Framework is expected to be firmed up by early 2017.Participants also learned more about the initiatives being spearheaded by the newly established National Biodiversity Centre.
One of the specific areas the project is assisting the establishment of the National Framework is with updating the Malaysian PA Master List of more than 480 PAs. The original document has not been revised since it was first produced in 2008 and is generally not used. Since then, several states and agencies have provided important input on new PAs and additional data that needs to be incorporated into the document before it can be finalized with the agreement of all parties. The support for revising the PA Master List will also support the finalization of the National PA Database platform within the new Malaysian Biodiversity Information System (MYBIS; www.mybis.gov.my). The robust online platform is maintained by the recently established National Biodiversity Centre. MYBIS, when fully operational, will be an accessible one-stop-centre for information on biodiversity and protected areas.