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

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Toolbox update 7: How to use Peninsular Malaysia’s first online map of limestone hills

For many years, scientists in Project Limestone have been frustrated by the lack of GIS information on limestone hills in Malaysia.  Till now, information on localities, shapes and sizes could only be obtained from books and journals, but not anymore…

Thanks to Liew and the team, Rimba has created Peninsular Malaysia’s first online map containing 445 hills.  This GIS map can easily be accessed by anyone who has Google Earth. This map is not a final product, but can be constantly improved by anyone who wants to add spatial or biological information on limestone hills. All the methods and data are available for anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute.

With this map, we were finally able to conduct a simple conservation prioritisation exercise for limestone hills based on their size and the degree to which they are isolated and disturbed.

You can find our paper published here in the journal Tropical Conservation Science. Meanwhile, here are videos that explain the methodology, and how to update and use this map!

 

Rimba comments on the fate of limestone karsts in Pahang

Ever wonder what can happen to majestic limestone karsts like these in Malaysia?

Pristine limestone karsts, Bau, Sarawak. ©Rimba/Reuben

Good Times recently featured a story on the sad fate of the Panching limestone karsts in Pahang, Malaysia, and Rimba reseachers Reuben and Liew gave their two cents worth. You can read the article here.

Most of these karsts were formed millions of years ago and are now home to many endemic plants and animals. This review paper will tell just how special and imperiled these ecosystems are.

As our mission statement says, Rimba is not against economic pursuits such as limestone quarrying, but certain groups of karsts that have been isolated for millions of years should be spared from quarrying as they are likely to support many biologically unique organisms. Here’s another paper that talks about the factors that should be considered when companies are deciding on which karsts to quarry. It’s time to use science to make smart decisions and avoid losing very special organisms that the world  will never see again.