Press Release: New Public Resource to Assist Limestone Conservation Efforts in Malaysia

Limestone outcrops in Kedah, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 2 September 2021 – Researchers have just released a publicly accessible online resource that contains the most comprehensive information on Malaysia’s limestone hills to date. Containing detailed maps, photos, and data in the form of 7 separate eBooks, the resource is titled ‘Conservation of Limestone Ecosystems of Malaysia’.

Limestone hills harbour unique biodiversity and provide numerous ecosystem services to humans, but face intensifying disturbances from forest loss, agricultural expansion, and infrastructure development. In the National Policy of Biological Diversity 2016-2025, the protection and restoration of limestone ecosystems are listed as one of the 17 national biodiversity targets.

In order to find out which limestone hills warrant urgent protection, a team of researchers felt the need to create a public database that includes information on their location, biodiversity, surrounding land use and extent of habitat disturbance.

With the help of satellite images, drone technology and ground verification, researchers have now accurately mapped 1393 limestone hills in Malaysia, with 911 located in Peninsular Malaysia, and 482 in Malaysian Borneo.

“After two years of analysis, compiling information, and travelling more than 22,000 km, I think we now have an almost complete picture of how Malaysia’s limestone hills are doing.” said Foon Junn Kitt, Project Coordinator of Rimba’s Project Limestone, who led the intensive field surveys.

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Publication updates 23 & 24: New Malaysian land snail genus and species named after the late Dr. Tony Whitten

In honour of the late Dr. Tony Whitten, the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology has just published a special Memorial Issue showcasing articles celebrating Tony’s career and new species or genera named after him. Project Limestone researchers named one new genus and one new species after him.

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Tony was an avid supporter of Rimba’s Project Limestone. Up to his last day, Tony was still trying his best to bring scientists like us and the cement industry closer together to explore how limestone biodiversity can be better protected (see Tony in action in this video: min 27:37 onwards). Continue reading

Project Update 22, Publication Update 20: Project Limestone Press Release

Scientists and Lafarge Malaysia Collaborate to Study Threatened Land Snails

Kuala Lumpur – Scientists and Lafarge Malaysia recently embarked on a joint study to document the diversity of land snails at limestone hills in Peninsular Malaysia.

A quarried limestone hill in Kinta Valley, Perak, Malaysia. Credit: Junn Kitt Foon. License: CC-BY 4.0

Formed from reefs beneath ancient seas, limestone hills are regarded as “arks of biodiversity” because they can harbour plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. A recent study showed that at least 445 limestone hills can be found scattered across Peninsular Malaysia.

Research has also shown that limestone hills provide numerous benefits to humans, by storing groundwater, or providing habitat for cave bats that either pollinate commercially important trees like Durian, or reduce pests in rice fields.

To support the construction industry which plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of the country, however, certain limestone hills are being quarried to make cement. Continue reading