2019 Key Highlights

in 2019
in total

individuals participated in capacity building initiatives towards protection and conservation the forest, riverine and marine ecosystem

documentary produced to advocate for the protection of the Central Forest Spine
community films produced
0 ha

hectares supported towards
rehabilitation / protection / gazettement
of which

0 ha

hectares have been rehabilitated / protected / gazetted to-date with 642 trees planted

Reef Check Malaysia

0 kg

savings of of Co2 equivalent or
508.93 days of electricity for
one household, through
3,000kg of food waste composted

Reef Check Malaysia

0 kg

savings of of Co2 equivalent
through plastic bottles recycled

Reef Check Malaysia

0 kg

savings of Co2 equivalent, through 156kg of trash transported to Kota Belud, from Mantanani island

Yayasan Sultanah Bahiyah

0 kg
equivalent through recyclables waste collected from 50 schools


0 kg
savings of Co2 or equivalent of 174.99 days of electricity for one household through removal of floating trash and recycling efforts


No Time Like the Present

There is something creeping through the peninsula as we go about our daily lives. From Johor it heads towards the Thai border, hidden in plain sight. It is alive — albeit barely, in some parts — and it is beautiful.

80% of Malaysia’s population depend on it for water supply1 and it is home to a myriad of flora and fauna. Some know it as the Central Forest Spine (CFS). Sadly, the vast majority do not know it at all.

01 | Knowledge is Power

Conceptualised under the National Physical Plan (NPP) in 2005, the CFS is made up of four major forest complexes — Banjaran Titiwangsa-Banjaran Bintang-Nakawan, Taman Negara-Banjaran Timur, South East Pahang, Chini and Bera Wetlands and Endau Rompin Park- Kluang Wildlife Reserves — sprawled across eight states.

Despite its tremendous contributions, this backbone of biodiversity has been degrading at an alarming rate. Even after its formulation under the NPP, colossal chunks of the CFS continued disappearing, aggravating the already imbalanced ecosystem.

It is the hefty price we pay for rapid urbanisation and human intervention for commercial gains. Massive, unsustainable development has torn the vast natural habitat into unconnected parts, leaving islands of forest. Between 2006 and 2011 alone, a total of 1,784 wild animals were killed while crossing highways2. The inability of animals to move around safely is a tragic effect of forest fragmentation.

But that’s only one of the many services of the CFS which are under threat. That said, a large segment of the population — a whooping 90% according to a survey conducted by documentary production house Nuvista Media Sdn Bhd (Nuvista) — are unaware that us humans are severely dependent upon the CFS. Not only does 80% of it comprise of water catchment areas, supplying water for 22.3 million people3, it is also a climate regulator with 85% of carbon stock falling within it4.

“The most efficient technology available to fight climate change is the rainforest. To-date there exists no other that can absorb such large quantities of carbon dioxide and release oxygen for humans,”

explained Kee E Lene, Roots & Shoots Malaysia’s advisor who alongside the programme’s president TP Lim pioneered the Hasanah-funded inaugural Roots & Shoots Malaysia Award (RASMA) last year.

The awards recognised youth who completed a series of volunteering activities with partner NGOs such as Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre, Kota Damansara Community Forest Society and Free Tree Society, to name a few. Volunteers could choose to complete 40, 56 or 72 hours of service within three months and last year 36 youth volunteered a total of 3,200 hours.

1 Salman Saaban (Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia) 2016 – Paper was presented at the Biodiversity Forum 2016 and UNDP Project Document: Improving Connectivity in the CFS Landscape
2 ibid
3 ibid
4 UNDP Project Document: Improving Connectivity in the CFS Landscape


02 | The CFS Today

Despite its pivotal role, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimated that between 1970 and 2015 Malaysia lost 30% of precious forest cover. A year later, the National Policy on Biological Diversity revealed the impacts exerted by Malaysia’s transition into a high income nation — nearly half the country’s plant species face risk of extinction while the Javan rhinoceros and the green pea fowl are lost forever.

“We have the 13th largest rainforest and the oldest rainforest in the world and unlike many western countries, we still have one to save. As Dr Jane Goodall said — ‘Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved’”

E Lene quoting the renowned primatologist and anthropologist who is also the founder of the Roots & Shoots programme that has become a global youth-led movement.

Listen to Jane Goodall’s message here!

However, since its inception in 2015, the CFS plan has been riddled with challenges including the loss of critical linkages, forcing it to be reviewed. The lack of publicly-available data to track the health and changes of the forest led to Hasanah collaborating with the Earth Observation Center, Institute of Climate Change, UKM on a geospatial monitoring and analysis research. A series of geospatial maps of the CFS states over time, provided by the Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, are analysed using Remote Sensing known as normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) to identify and map forest cover change. Another major hurdle is deforestation, largely attributed to agriculture and oil palm plantations expansions, in particular. Shockingly, less than half are Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certified.5 Alarmingly also, The Malaysian Timber Certification Council deems logging operations in Kedah, Kelantan and Johor unsustainable.6

5 Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)
6 Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC)

03 | Spreading the Word

Hasanah partners Nuvista Media, Roots & Shoots and Global Environment Centre (GEC) — organisations that support environment protection and sustainable use of natural resources — each had independent and integral roles in awareness-building amongst varied groups. Hasanah’s Senior Vice President and Head of Environment, Ivy Wong explained this was in preparation for public engagements slated for 2019.

“2019 was about reaching out to different groups of people and having conversations about conserving the ecosystems in the CFS,” Ivy said.

The film’s intent was to bring about awareness on developments on the ground, how it is impacting the ecosystems and its inhabitants within and proposing a new way of collaboration between multiple stakeholders.

Nuvista’s Discovering Peninsular Malaysia’s Central Forest Spine project catered to decision and policy makers. Among the audience of the 15-minute documentary titled Central Forest Spine — Connecting our Forests were the Ministry of Natural Resources, Water and Environment, Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change as well as state governments. With a multitude of complications pervading the CFS, this documentary focused on facts and finding solutions to the CFS.

“They (decision makers) have the power to effect change. As conservationists, we feel that everyone must be constantly reminded of what they need to do. In the film, we have laid out suggestions that can be implemented,”

said Lara Ariffa Kamarul Ariffin, referring to recommendations such as forest and impact bonds as well as payment for ecosystem services.

“We do not expect overnight change but we hope that our footage of three-legged animals in the forests, dying animals along highways, floods and landslides will stay in their minds while making future decisions,” says Lara who co-founded Nuvista with husband Harun Rahman. 

04 | Eyes and Ears on the Ground

GEC tackled yet another vital segment – members of the community who are both stakeholders and beneficiaries of the services the CFS provides. Its project concerns conservation of forests and riverine habitats in the Upper Kinta River Basin (UKB).

Covering about 25,000 hectares, UKB is the primary watershed providing potable water for Ipoh and a crucial part of CFS. However, continuous development along the Ipoh-Simpang Pulai to Cameron Highlands highway affects the integrity of the catchment and water supply as it does biodiversity and local communities.

As part of its project, GEC in collaboration with local stakeholders drafted the Upper Kinta Basin Management Strategy, a comprehensive plan addressing the intricacies surrounding the UKB (climate, soil type, biodiversity, water bodies and sociocultural uses) alongside management issues, proposed strategy management plans, implementation and key performance index.

One of the GEC’s target beneficiaries are Orang Asli communities who are key users of water resources and ecosystem services. Besides training in community patrolling and forest stewardship, they were also exposed to eco-tourism as an alternative livelihood.

GEC also engaged urban and peri urban communities living in and around Ipoh town in hopes of developing a strong sense of ownership within them and deriving long-term implementation partners. 

“They act as eyes and ears by monitoring rivers, pollution and waste as well as ensuring the catchment area and river basin reserves are cared for and free of third-party interference, including those with political interests. This group also disseminates information on the integrated management of UKB to local communities and creates awareness through recycling, community farming, river adoption and river monitoring,”

Norazrin Hj Mamat – Programme Officer, Global Environment Centre

Presently, communities from Kawasan Rukun Tetangga (KRT) Kg Pengkalan Gate, KRT Taman Tasek Jaya, KRT Klebang Selatan, KRT Buntong 3 & 4, KRT Pekan Tambun, KRT Taman Seri Gaya, Majlis Pengurusan Komuniti Kampung (MPKK) Kg Tersusun Tasek and KRT Klebang Selatan — some of whom underwent a one-day River Ranger training — monitor the river and pollution levels on a monthly basis.

Data is then shared with GEC via the River Ranger website, Google Form and WhatsApp to be analysed and handed over to relevant bodies for further action. Another initiative saw 100 bamboo, gaharu and kangsar saplings planted along Kinta River.

04 | Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

As for RASMA, its emphasis was the younger generation. Dr. Jane Goodall, the founder of Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace in applauding the initiative said,

“This award encourages young people to volunteer for approved organisations and work to make the world a better place. I am sure it is going to help improve the lives of many people, animals and the environment of Malaysia, which is so beautiful.”

“It is very easy to fall into the narrative of ‘I’m a hero’ while volunteering…Being in Royal Belum for two months has changed this perspective of mine.”

Nurfatin Najhah binti Hamzah, Volunteer

She was grateful for the opportunity to interact closely with the indigenous Jahai tribe and better understand their role as protectors of the forest which they depend on, an aspect which she opined urbanites rarely relate to. Nurfatin also witnessed three elephants coming into the village and eating farmers’ crops. 

In fact, such human-wildlife conflict is a huge plight within the CFS due to shrinking habitat coupled with heightened human activity. Granted, nature has an innate way of healing itself but this can only happen if given the fighting chance. And soon.

As is the case with the host of issues threatening its survival and biodiversity, time is of the essence. As one traditional Chinese adage goes,

‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’

Which of the following statements are untrue?

Our Partners

We also work with other partners in Environment. Click on them to see what they have been up to.


© 2020 Yayasan Hasanah. All Rights Reserved.

South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP)

communities across Malaysia work towards adoption of Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site Based Assessment (TESSA)

Staying its course of facilitating world-class scientific research addressing major environmental issues facing the tropics, the partner’s work includes building capacity of conservation practitioners to identify, prioritise and assess ecosystem services via the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-Based Assessment (TESSA). Moving forward, it looks towards up-scaling of TESSA in the Central Forest Spine states in Peninsular Malaysia

Malaysian Documentary Association (MyDocs)

films produced

Trained and assisted the members of two rural communities who live within the Central Forest Spine landscape in Perak to make a documentary, providing an authentic, much-needed perspective of the issues faced by the community and in turn, garner public attention towards said pressing matters.

Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC)

0 ha
have been rehabilitated / protected / gazetted to date with 642 trees planted

Produced a Conservation Management Plan that focuses on conservation of plant species in Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu which is intended for the use of state implementing agencies.

Roots & Shoots Malaysia

youth volunteered

The inaugural Roots & Shoots Malaysia Award laid the foundation for awareness building and volunteerism within the Central Forest Spine (CFS) landscape amongst the general public — specifically the younger generation — pertaining to the importance of the invaluable ecosystem services the CFS provides the earth and its occupants.

Nuvista Media Sdn Bhd

Completed a

0 mins
advocacy documentary on CFS

Created with the audience of decision makers, government officials and state royalty in mind, the was produced, revolving around issues plaguing the Central Forest Spine and proposed solutions. The objective of the documentary was to engage with relevant ministries and to facilitate understanding on the issues in question of conserving the CFS.

Yayasan Sultanah Bahiyah

students participated
teachers trained
schools participated

Secondary school teachers in Kedah will be trained to implement a sustainable school project that will emphasise on awareness-raising besides encouraging food waste separation and garden waste collection, establishing recycling and composting bins, as well as recycling centres and introducing a programme whereby students may exchange recyclable waste for spending credit.

Global Environment Center

Workshop on Ulu Kinta Basin Strategic Management plan joined by:

government agencies
Orang Asli community leaders
private sectors

A strategy for forest and water resource management of the upper Kinta basin within the Central Forest Spine, involved community engagement to address issues regarding forest management and river protection as well as a potential financing mechanism for sustainable management of Kinta River Basin.

LEAP Spiral

individuals trained on community-based ecotourism and Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) activities
individuals of mainly Dusun descent in Kg. Tampasak, Kg. Babagon, Kg. Toki, and Kg Kolosunan. Besides that, water consumers in Kota Kinabalu and Penampang would also benefit from the water catchment.

In a bid to provoke ecologically sustainable co-existence, the organisation fosters stakeholder collaboration to advance a state level Payment for Ecosystem (PES) scheme pertaining to water catchment conservation west coast of Sabah while facilitating discussion on water stewardship plans, water quality measurement, collection of water conservation fees, alongside PES related matters.

Reef Check Malaysia

Savings of
of Co2 equivalent through plastic bottles recycled
Savings of 0.46kg of Co2 equivalent, through
0 kg
of trash transported to mainland
0 kg
of food waste composted

In working towards sustainable management of coral reefs in the country, this partner’s latest projects focus on Sabah’s Mantanani Island — one of three islands the organisation has a presence in. Efforts include setting up of a functioning, stakeholder-led Marine Managed Area, waste management system on the island and a job creation scheme which includes skill training. 

Persatuan Jangkauan Holistik, Penyelidikan & Tindakan Alam Sekitar, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (MELAPI)

participated in SUARA and YL4S proogramme.

The voluntary organisation that works to inspire sustainable Sabahan communities through film and storytelling encourages rural communities to articulate their aspirations and compel action for a sustainable future through stories. The partner’s Young Leaders for Sustainability action agendas nurture and empower urban youths to be environmental change makers.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia

beneficiaries from the fishing community empowered to undertake community-based initiative to protect and conserve coastal and marine ecosystem leading to income generating through improved quality of catch.

In furtherance of its mission to create a peaceful and sustainable world where people live in harmony with nature, its community-based conservation and protection efforts focus on coastal and marine ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia.

PINTAR Foundation
(in collaboration with UKM)


 in Kedah were exposed to environmental friendly and sustainable consumption concepts and practices.

Implemented in secondary schools in Kedah, the foundation’s multi-disciplinary iG-Home Module covers theoretical learning of environmentally friendly production and consumption practices as well as sustainable living coupled with application of related knowledge and skills at school and residential level.

Water Watch Penang

participants from government agencies, NGOs, private firms, institutes and local communites attended workshop and contributed towards developing a position paper on the implementation of the Ulu Muda Roadmap.

This partner manages education, outreach and advocacy to garner awareness, visibility and the legal protection of the Greater Ulu Muda as part of the Central Forest Spine landscape in addition to a multi-stakeholder common vision for the preservation of the area’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Yayasan Kajian Dan Pembangunan Masyarakat


Orang Asli organic farmers


villages - Kampung Orang Asli Ulu Gumum & Kg Orang Asli Melai

An eco-farm in Kampung Ulu Gumum, Pekan, Pahang was chosen as a livelihood strategy model to be replicated throughout the country to establish a source of income for the Orang Asli. The model will empower Orang Asli families to take charge over their livelihoods and protect their forest through a co management approach