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The landscape team is currently working on the following activities in this stage:  Forming a DEVELOP stage team and MoU The partners group formalizes the partnership through an operational design team for the develop stage and a signs MoU clarifying roles for design and implementation Program development Specific studies (detailed feasibility studies, economic analyses...) or pilot activities may be carried out and reviewed to be incorporated in the  program  document Program design document  The Landscape partnership team submits a full program design document to one of the relevant funds or investor (LDNF, GCF, FCPF)
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Kedah Sustainable Landscape Initiative

Through a sustainable landscape approach, the catchment forest will continue to provide its ecological services – ensuring water security and enabling economic growth for the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia, and contributing to the nation’s food security.

Landscape description

The landscape is the Kedah landscape in Malaysia. Kedah is the largest state located in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. It is divided into mainland Kedah (where the project will focus on) and Langkawi Island (aside from smaller islands within the state’s territorial waters). The size of mainland Kedah is 8,959km2. Among its biggest land uses are forest reserves, paddy fields and rubber plantations. Kedah is the second poorest state in Malaysia based on the 2017 gross domestic product per capita.

The Ulu Muda Forest Complex (to be referred to as Ulu Muda) is located in the heartland of mainland Kedah and encompasses 1,638km2 of forest reserves. It contains one of the last and largest expanses of lowland dipterocarp forest in Peninsular Malaysia that remains mostly outside of the protected area system. Other vegetation types found at Ulu Muda are the hill dipterocarp forest, upper dipterocarp forest and limestone vegetation. It is unique in terms of location whereby  it is the northernmost representative of Peninsular Malaysia’s lowland dipterocarp forest and the southernmost limits for many species of the Thai-Burmese flora making the forest most exceptional. It also has long been recognised for its abundance of wildlife, especially large mammals including Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, Sunda pangolin, Malayan sun bear, sambar deer, leopard and the clouded leopard. The Ulu Muda in particular is one of the two known places in Peninsular Malaysia where spotted leopards are found. Ulu Muda has also been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is home to over 300 species of birds. Ulu Muda is one of two locations in Malaysia where the rare plain-pouched hornbill is known to roost and can be found in large flocks. Another important feature that has added to the conservation value of the Ulu Muda forest is its abundance of natural saltlicks which contribute to the wellbeing of its wildlife population.

Ulu Muda also functions as a crucial water catchment forest as it supplies 96%, 80% and 40% of Kedah’s, Penang’s and Perlis’s (states located in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia) water demand respectively. This includes providing water supply to the industrial parks such as the Kulim High Tech Park in Kedah and the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zones in Penang. The two major rivers from Ulu Muda are Sg. Kedah and Sg. Muda. These rivers utilized by rural communities as alternative source of protein and income.

The water catchment forests also supplies 32% of water to the nation’s largest granary scheme – the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) irrigation scheme. This area, known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Malaysia, covers about 100,685ha, directly involves 57,600 families and contributes to approximately 46% of the nation’s rice supply.

The significant dependence of Kedah state government on revenue generated from timber continues to be one of the barriers for the protection of the Ulu Muda Forest Complex. This is due to the limited scope in revenue generation that is mostly slanted towards land-based revenues such as logging and mining for state governments and inadequate incentives for forest conservation efforts at the federal government level. However, the recent (November 2018) tabling of the Malaysian 2019 budget announced two incentives: (1) that the Federal government will provide RM60 million to states for maintaining protected areas and setting aside new protected areas, and (2) 50% of the tourism tax will be returned to states. These will contribute to the enabling factors for Kedah to develop alternative revenue sources while conserving the Ulu Muda Forest Complex.

With approximately a quarter of the state’s land locked as a granary area (for planting paddy) and is considered as the second poorest state in Malaysia, a holistic approach of multiple landscape uses has to be adopted to enable not just the protection of Ulu Muda but also for the state government of Kedah to generate the revenue needed for the growth of the state and the well-being of the people.

Main partners

  • Kedah State Government and the relevant government agencies namely the Kedah State Economic Planning Unit, Kedah Forestry Department, Kedah Water Resource Board and Kedah Department of Irrigation and Drainage
  • Federal Government ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Economic Affairs, Muda Development Agricultural Authority (MADA) and Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI)
  • Industries and companies operating in Kulim High Tech Park and other industrial park; Kulim Hi-Tech Park Tenant Association and Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies Association
  • Community based organizations such as the Pertubuhan Perladangan Kawasan (Farming Area Organizations)

Total area (ha)

8,959 km2

The landscape includes Ulu Muda Forest Complex, the most significant water catchment forest for the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. It also includes two major river basins, i.e. Sungai Kedah basin and Sungai Muda basin

Note: Sungai is River in Bahasa Malaysia

Overall goal

By 2025, actions toward a sustainable Kedah landscape has been secured contributing towards an improved protection status of at least 60% of the Ulu Muda Forest Complex, restoring the connectivity of the biological corridor of one of the primary linkage (Primary Linkage 5 under the Central Forest Spine Master Plan), improving the quality of the Sungai Muda river and enhancing the functions of the Muda irrigation scheme areas.

Note: The area in Ulu Muda that we are trying to secure (approximately 1,638km2), will contribute towards our larger goal in Peninsular Malaysia, which is :

By 2030, 3,609km2 of tropical forest within Priority Conservation Areas in Peninsular Malaysia have improved protection status, increased management effectiveness and are sustainably financed.

Expected impacts

Quantitative expected Impacts

  • Carbon sequestered through the protection of the forest from being converted/logged
  • Water quality and quantity secured through the improvement of the quality of the Sungai Muda
  • Wildlife habitat improved through the functionality of the biological corridors

Number of direct beneficiaries[1]

  • Four main villages living adjacent to the Ulu Muda Forest Complex (approximately 400 households)
  • 57,600 paddy farming communities securing water supplies and livelihoods within the Muda Irrigation Scheme area
  • Kedah inhabitants as 96% of the water supply for the state is extracted from either Sungai Muda or Sungai Kedah
  • Penang inhabitants as 80% of the water supply for the state is extracted from Sungai Muda
  • Industries that are directly dependent on the availability of water in Kedah for the security of their operations
  • *Tourists and tourist operator in Ulu Muda Forest Complex
  • *Communities living adjacent to Sungai Muda that are affected by flooding
  • *Communities that are dependent on the river for source of protein and livelihood (i.e. fisherman community)

*specific numbers could not be determined yet

Narratives

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

  • Through maintaining the existing land use status of the natural forest, greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided and will be able to maintain carbon sequestered.
  • Through maintaining landscape connectivity and contiguous forest corridor, it provides opportunity for species to find refuge (from rising temperature) at cooler elevations.

Biodiversity and environmental services

  • Through improving the protection status of the forest and subsequently, improving its management effectiveness, extractive or unsustainable activities such as logging could be prevented if not mitigated, and illegal activities such as poaching and fish bombing will be enforced against. Such enforcement contributes towards ensuring the forest function as water catchment remains as it is.
  • Through maintaining/restoring the forest corridor, the forest will be better connected and may help alleviate human wildlife conflict within the linkage area.
  • Through setting river quality targets for Sungai Muda and Sungai Kedah and working to achieve it, the freshwater ecosystems will be improved.

Social impacts

  • Through a sustainable landscape, the livelihood of the communities benefiting from the ecosystem services will be more secured especially communities who are directly dependent on the forests for subsistence and the paddy farmers who are dependent on water for agricultural use

Economic impacts

  • Through water security, the state government will be able to continue attracting investment into the state through the setting up of industries and companies
  • Availability of water will also enable paddy production which contributes toward the country’s target of 80% in rice self-sufficiency by 2022

[1] People directly involved/benefiting directly by specific project activities.

Landscape approach

Potential approaches:

  • Catchment/basin management – developing water stewardship among all the water beneficiaries especially the industrial users; assessing the water risk through tools such as the Water Risk Filter, and increasing investments into nature based solutions to tackle river basin related water risks.
  • Increasing irrigation efficiency of the granary areas and looking in to the use of higher yielding paddy variations to contribute towards an increase in water reserves for other sectors.
  • Exploring revenue generating eco-tourism models that comply with the findings of our Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) study of the Ulu Muda Forest Complex.
  • PES program – contribution towards a river basin trust fund for the management of the water catchment forest and water resources. This is if the corporate water stewardship succeeds. 
  • Inclusion of a portion of the revised water tariffs to go towards protection of river basin components, including water catchment forests. This is a long term potential as we do not know yet when and whether there will be a successful upwards revision of the water tariffs, but it has been mentioned by the National Water Resources Commission and they are currently working on a tariff setting mechanism.
  • Landscape REDD+ for the forest reserves at the national level
  • Biological corridors – linkage to other large forested areas such as Gunung Inas Forest Reserve and Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve, and possibly even Royal Belum State Park (which is a tiger landscape).

Commodities

  1. Timber
  2. Palm Oil
  3. Rubber - Rubber plantation is the third largest land use in the state. There is also a Rubber City being developed in the district of Padang Terap, which aims to produce rubber and set up a research and development facility related to rubber.
  4. Rice Production
  5. Manufactured products of the industry park (e.g. semiconductors produced, etc).

Note: Currently sourcing only for the first 3 commodities listed above; although a mapping exercise will need to be conducted to fully understand the amount of these commodities used in the manufacturing sector within the state.

Related Sector

  • Agriculture
  • Freshwater fisheries
  • Conservation
  • Forestry and NTFPs
  • Tourism
  • Water
  • Industrial infrastructure – Water Management Infrastructure, Industrial Parks Infrastructure

Lead institution

Norizan Mohd Mazlan, Head, Peninsular Malaysia Terrestrial Conservation (PMTC) Program, WWF-Malaysia

Siti Zuraidah Abidin, Protected Areas Conservation Lead, PMTC Program, WWF-Malaysia

Budget

50-100 M USD

Expected sources of funding

Map

Support needed

  • Capacity building
  • Governance and multi-stakeholders platform
  • Concept development
  • Full proposal development
  • Fund raising
  • Private sector engagement
edited on 27th March 2019, 21:03 by Deesha Chandra
LouisaDenier

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LouisaDenier Mar 26, 2019

Status label added: New submission

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Deesha Chandra Apr 11, 2019

Hi Steve it would be great to hear if any lessons from the work you're doing in Cerrado could be applied in Kedah. Specifically there is a signifcant dependence of Kedah state government on revenue generated from timber which continues to be one of the barriers for the protection of the Ulu Muda Forest Complex.

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Deesha Chandra Apr 11, 2019

Hi Alice and Will, Ulu Muda has also been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is home to over 300 species of birds. Would there be any input/ resources from Birdlife here that could support the team, and possibly any funding from Trillion Trees they could access?

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Deesha Chandra Apr 11, 2019

It could also be interesting for the team to speak with the team from the Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary (from the Birdlife Accelerator) that are looking to replicate the organic sustainable rice production model for international export with ibis rice

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Deesha Chandra Apr 11, 2019

Hi Kathryn and Esther, great to connect today.

We briefly discussed eco-tourism and we were wondering if you might be able to share and thoughts, resources with the Malaysia team on this. Specifically because 50% of the tourism tax will be returned to states with the landscape. This will contribute to the enabling factors for Kedah to develop alternative revenue sources while conserving the Ulu Muda Forest Complex. They are interested to explore revenue generating eco-tourism models that comply with the findings of the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) study of the Ulu Muda Forest Complex.

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Esther Wolfs Apr 12, 2019

Hi Deesha,

I have send your question to someone in the MPA network in the Caribbean. Would be very good if MPA managers can share their experience with the Malaysian team. Keep you posted.
Cheers Esther

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Deesha Chandra Apr 12, 2019

Amazing thanks so much!

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Raphaele Deau Apr 25, 2019

Hello Keiron and Aaron, I'm thinking this landscape could very well learn from your lessons in the Kafue flats, particularly on how private companies contribute financially to the watershed conservation. Could you share any case study/presentation to the group of subscribers here?

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Deesha Chandra Jun 6, 2019

Status label removed: New submission

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Deesha Chandra Nov 7, 2019

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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Deesha Chandra 8 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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Deesha Chandra 5 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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