Understanding Development Trends and Landscape Changes of Protected Areas in Peninsular Malaysia: A Much Needed Component of Sustainable Conservation Planning

Saiful Arif Abdullah, Shukor Md. Nor, and Abdul Malek Mohd Yusof

Abstract The establishment of protected areas in peninsular Malaysia was initiated during the British colonial period. The combination of political scenario and socio­economic development has influenced the planning and management of protected areas in peninsular Malaysia. As a result, some of them did not receive much attention and have been exposed to various human land use activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and building highways, a concern particularly since the rapid land development for agriculture in the 1950s and the 1960s. However, from the 1980s to recent years, urbanization and other similar types of development are emerging to affect the sustainability of protected areas. Assessing landscape element change or simply landscape change of protected areas and their link to its develop­ment trends is an urgent need to identify the main priorities for protection and conservation. Therefore, this chapter presents the development trends of protected areas, followed by some analysis on landscape changes both inside and outside of protected areas in three temporal years: 1988, 1996, and 2005. The degree of their impact on ecosystem of the protected areas is also presented. The objective is to provide understanding of the linkages between the development trends and land­scape changes and their impact on the ecosystems of the protected areas.

S. A. Abdullah (*)

Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia e-mail: saiful@ukm. my; saiful_arif2002@yahoo. com

S. Md. Nor

School of Environment and Natural Resources, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kabangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia e-mail: shukor@ukm. my

A. M.M. Yusof

Department of Wildlife and National Park, Km 10, Jalan Cheras, 51400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia e-mail: malek@wildlife. gov. my

N. Nakagoshi and J. A. Mabuhay (eds.), Designing Low Carbon Societies in Landscapes, Ecological Research Monographs, DOI 10.1007/978-4-431-54819-5_12, © Springer Japan 2014

Keywords Biodiversity • Conservation planning • Land use policy • Sustainable development • Tropical landscape • Wildlife management

12.1 Introduction

Globally, the establishment of protected areas is an approach widely used to conserve and protect forests and habitats from further loss and degradation. His­torically, the modern concept of protected areas began in the 1800s, but the development scenarios and characteristics differ between countries or regions (Brovko and Fomina 2008). The first modern designation of a protected area was in 1872: the declaration of Yellowstone National Park in the United States (Brovko and Fomina 2008).

In a broader perspective, the concept of protected areas is not restricted to conservation and protection of the forest and its flora and fauna, but also embraces marine ecosystems and historical and cultural sites with unique characteristics. This perspective has been adopted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to define protected areas for recognition at the international level. Toward the end of the twentieth century, voices to develop models of protected area management became more prominent. As a result, the number and extent of protected areas increased. As of 2003, there are about 102,102 protected areas in the world with a total area of about 18.8 million km2 (Chape et al. 2003).

In peninsular Malaysia, the establishment of protected areas was influenced by a combination of the country’s political scenario and socioeconomic development. The initiative was started in the 1900s during the colonial period as an effort to protect and conserve wildlife from hunting activity and land use development (Aiken 1994). Many protected areas, however, did not receive much attention for various factors and constraints such as institutional overlapping, legislation, and land use policy. As a result, these areas have been exposed to a variety of land use activities such as agriculture, human settlements, urbanization, and road networks.

These trends may affect the landscape and habitat quality of protected areas and their surroundings. Thus, understanding landscape change of protected areas and its link to development trends is urgently needed and should be incorporated in conservation planning for sustainability. To understand the link, this chapter first presents the development trends of protected areas in peninsular Malaysia, followed by landscape change analysis both inside and outside of protected areas over three decades. Also, hemeroby analysis is used to measure how landscape changes have affected the naturalness of protected areas.