RESEARCH THEMES

Conservation planning in Peninsula Malaysia and Southeast and East Asia

Background

Peninsular Malaysia is rich in flora and fauna, with around 8,000 species of plants, 620 bird species, 250 reptile species and over 200 species of mammals. It is also home to large characteristic megafauna such as Asian Elephants and Tigers. Across Peninsular Malaysia Biodiversity is being negatively impacted by a range of environmental issues including deforestation, Oil Palm agriculture, poaching and urbanization. 

Research Interests

  • Map land cover and identify habitat areas to conserve, protect and restore in order to support species persistence, reduce habitat fragmentation using remote sensing, GIS and ecological modelling.

Specific Projects

Mapping the impacts of land cover change on Peninsula Malaysia's Central Forest Spine.

Land use and land cover change and High Conservation Value (HCV) mapping

Background

Round-table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)s Remediation and Compensation Procedure (RaCP) was established to address land clearance and plantation development to ensure the sustainability of Oil Plam landscapes. The procedure requires growers to first disclose any new land development, calculate environmental liabilities through a Land Use Change Analysis (LUCA), and to carry out onsite or offsite remediation for the affected sites or remediation with affected parties.

Research Interests

  • Develop methods for mapping land use and land cover change in oil palm landscapes to support RSPO's LUCA assessments.

  • Incorporate systematic conservation planning approaches and modelling methods to map HCV landscapes.

  • Utilize UAV for conducting farm-scale socio-environmental sustainability mapping assessments.

Specific Projects

In collaboration with Wild Asia:

  •  Google Earth Engine Oil Palm land use and land cover change assessment

  •  High Conservation Value mapping 

  •  UAV oil palm small holder mapping

China's Belt and Road Initiative

 

Background

China’s Belt and road initiative (BRI) (also known as “One Belt One Road”) is projected to be the largest infrastructure development initiative in the 21st century. At an estimated cost of over four trillion US dollars it will connect roughly half of the world’s population. Direct impacts on the environment and in particularly biodiversity will primarily arise from the proposed network of terrestrial and marine transport networks, but also include a range of other types of development including dams and power stations.

 

BRI will cross several the world’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity hotspots with the potential for significant impacts on global biodiversity. Roads, have significant ecological impacts such as habitat loss, fragmentation, invasive species, and illegal activities such as poaching and logging. In the marine environment, increased sea traffic exacerbates the movement of invasive species and pollution, which is especially concerning as BRI’s maritime routes cross the coral reef triangle, often described as the Amazon of the seas.

 

Research Interests

  • Characterise the range of potential biodiversity impacts using spatial analysis describing the areal extent of impacts and conservation values.

  • Assess ways in which BRI’s negative impacts may be mitigated

Spatial assessments of socio-environmental mining footprints to support local communities

 

Background

Planning approaches for mining have so far failed to foster a common vision of development in regions that are rich in mineral/energy resources. This goal is central to the ambition of co-existence between minerals/energy extraction and established land uses such as settlements, agriculture, forestry, and ecological conservation. Mining often requires people to be resettled from the land that they are living on, or rely on for their livelihood, to make way for resource development. Whether company or government led, evidence suggests that mining-induced resettlement is overwhelming harmful, and costly, for all parties involved.  These harms run counter to the industry’s own commitments under the World Bank Groups international safeguard standards and the United Nation’s SDGs.

Research interests

  • Characterise mining socio-environmental footprints over time with remote sensing and historical Landsat data

  • Develop GIS methods for assessing and addressing the impacts of mining on local communities

  • Apply emerging interdisciplinary techniques including ethno geographical, geo-narrative and spatially integrated social science methods for linking qualitative and quantitative social data with quantitative environmental data

Specific Projects

  • Collaboration between UNMC and the University of Queensland (UQ) Mining, Resettlement and Livelihoods Consortium (http://www.miningresettlement.org/) mapping mines in PNG, Laos and Philippines.

Urban research in Malaysia, and Southeast and East Asia

 

Background

Globally, urban populations are growing rapidly, with people migrating from rural areas to cities, particularly in Southeast Asia. In the coming decades, the population of Southeast Asia is expected to increase from 634 million in 2015 to a maximum of 804 million in 2065. Projections of urbanisation (based on 2014 UN modelling) suggest that by 2050, 65 percent of the population of Southeast Asia will be urban. Malaysia, in particular, is predicted to experience high rates of urbanisation, with 86 percent of the population projected to live within urban areas in the future. Capital cities and metropolitan regions, such as Greater Kula Lumpur, are expected to face increasing environmental pressures due to the rapid land use changes.

 

Uncontrolled urbanisation presents a challenge for planning at national and local levels. Unplanned and poorly managed urbanisation can give rise to pollution, inequity, and reduced liveability. People in cities increasingly have only limited interactions with nature, as green spaces and rivers and lakes are lost to urbanization and habitats are degraded. Urban green spaces and rivers (green-blue infrastructure) provide valuable ecosystem services such as water regulation, flood mitigation, climate change adaptation and amenity, as well as providing critical habitat for biodiversity and have important positive effects on well-being for residents.

 

Research interests

  • What ecosystem services are provided by urban green spaces?

  • How do people connect with nature?

  • What is the future for green spaces and climate change in urban landscapes?

  • How do we plan for sustainable urban development?

 

Specific Projects

  • Life in Changing Environments RPA funding - Improving Life in Changing Cities - Interdisciplinary research on urban sustainability in developing nations in South East and East Asia

  • Urban green spaces for sustainability in Greater Kuala Lumpur: linking biodiversity, nature-based solutions and well-being - How does urbanisation in particular urban green spaces influences nature connections.

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