Highlighted articles

Biodiversity Gardens Capacity Building Workshop

This online workshop series, organized with the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society and with funding from The Habitat Foundation and the UNDP GEF Small Grants Program, aims to develop knowledge and skills among urban communities that want to conserve, improve and manage green spaces in the city. The workshops discusses on various topics related to rewilding urban areas by our local experts.

Pollinator Series

Learn more on various types of pollinators in the Malaysian context

Read more here

What is rewilding?

The term rewilding has been thrown about a lot quite recently but in many cases, the term has been misused to just be about planting trees. Here I explain how ecologists view rewilding, as well as important concepts required to understand rewilding. This is somewhat a summary of a review paper by Perino et al. […]

Gliding lizards and how disturbance helps biodiversity

Draco gliding lizards are interesting tropical animals. They have ‘wings’ that fold out from their ribs and allow them to glide from tree to tree. They also have a small flap under their chins that acts as both a flag to communicate and like the tail of a plane to stabilise their flight. When I […]

Wildflower meadows in Malaysia, a beginners guide

Naturally occurring wildflower patches are the first step in succession. These small sun loving plants are usually the first to colonise bare land. They then help to regenerate the soil and make it suitable for secondary vegetation like shrubs and small trees to grow. It should be stated that modern wildflower meadows are not native […]

Biodiversity in Cities

In recent years, ecologists have begun to take a second look at plants and animals appearing in cities. There seems to be more ‘nature’ in urban areas than one would expect. Cities are supposed to be human territories—steel, brick and concrete—not exactly welcoming to wildlife. But urban places display a variety of species and habitats […]

Oikos: An introduction to ecology

Sometime in the 19th century, Ernest Haeckel, a naturalist, came up with the word ‘ecology’ to draw attention to something that he thought was important: the ‘entire relations’ of an organism. By this, he meant that it was not enough to study one plant or animal species at a time. He believed it was important […]

Saving the Underground Farmers: Soil Ecosystems

Have you ever noticed the earth that you step on? It is where we get materials essential to our survival. It is soil that supports the growth of plants, the producers of the food chain and the sources of fibre, fodder, and fuel. At first look, it seems static and lifeless. In fact, soil hosts […]

Fig Trees in Town

Fig fruitImage by Couleur from Pixabay We might not all recognize them, and we might not recognize all of them but fig trees are among the native flora that have come to settle in cities with us. Some are intentionally planted in urban areas, while others continue to appear spontaneously, self-sowing, even in the less […]

What is urban biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variety of animals, plants and fungi in an area. It is also the variety of genes within each species. Many don’t know that Malaysia is country with mega biodiversity, which means that compared to the rest of the world we have many times more diversity. For example in Malaysia we have 6000 […]


Most animals are what we would call “cold-blooded” (This is not a proper scientific term, it is more accurate to say they are exothermic and poikilothermic). Unlike humans, they can’t generate their own body temperature and depend on outside heat. They are also less capable of dealing with higher temperatures, it can cause them to […]

The average urban animal

As humans we view ourselves as nothing special. This thinking causes all sorts of problems for the wildlife around us, because humans are in fact quite extraordinary creatures, and when we design our spaces for extraordinary creatures we exclude the average animal. If I was to describe the average animal species, it would be cold-blooded, […]

Resources produced by plants for animals

Resources produced by plants for animals come in many forms. Some animals require the presence of water for reproduction like frogs. Others like butterflies require shade to prevent overheating. Some require very specific structures like rotting wood, or crevices to complete their life cycle. When it comes to planting, plants produce resources for animals in […]

Conserving Soil Biodiversity

Like aquatic and terrestrial organisms, soil organisms are threatened by a series of environmental issues. The major threat that they face is habitat loss, which results from land conversion, pollution, climate change and invasive species. Agricultural activities such as “tillage” alter composition of bacterial communities and reduce diversity of soil fungi and larger animals. Construction […]

Soil Biodiversity

Soil organisms constitute more than 25% of discovered biodiversity on earth. However, much of them remain unexplored and receive little attention compared to aboveground organisms. Though less visible, these organisms are responsible for various ecosystem functions such as: nutrient cycling pollution remediation disease control water infiltration supporting agro-ecosystems etc.  The ecological processes in soil are […]

What is soil?

Written by Ethlyn Koh Photos by Goh Shang Ming Every day as you lay your feet on the ground and walk the earth, have you ever wondered what lies beneath? Soil. This material exists on the outermost part of Earth’s crust, forming the surface of land and sometimes regarded as “skin of the earth”.  The […]

Disturbance and movement

Written by Thary Gazi GohPhotos by Thary Gazi Goh & Langur Project Penang The natural world is chaotic. Accidental events can happen that can affect a whole ecosystem, for example a fire started by lightning or a disease that kills off a species. In the worst cases, random events can cause the collapse of entire […]


Written by Thary Gazi GohPhoto by Goh Shang Ming Imagine biodiversity as water, it can flow from one place to another, it can stagnate and it can seep out. Some places have more biodiversity, some places have less. When conditions are right and there is a   pathway available, the biodiversity can flow from areas […]

Pioneer species

A pioneer species is a species that arrives at the start of a succession sequence. If you’re not familiar with succession, you can find an article about the concept here. An example of a pioneer species is the Senduduk (Melastoma malabathricum), which breaks up poor soils with its extensive root system and lays down layers […]

Keystone species

Written by Thary Gazi GohPhoto by Goh Shang Ming Keystone species are species that cause the entire ecosystem to fall apart if they are removed.  We can imagine an ecosystem to be a network of connections between various species. Some species are more connected than others, and they can be the ones holding the entire […]

Rain forests and rain

Written by Thary Gazi GohPhotos by Goh Shang Ming Ever wonder why it is called a rain forest? Rain forests are important controllers of the water cycle in tropical ecosystems. Rain forests do 2 important functions with water: They control the intensity of water. This means that they control how much rain flows into rivers […]

Invasive species

Written by Thary Gazi Goh An invasive species is a species that has been introduced by people and has gone somewhat out of control. These species come from other parts of the world, like South America or Africa. Some invasive species are introduced by accident. For example, brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) were introduced through shipping. […]

Why plant native?

Written by Thary Gazi Goh Why should you go through the effort of planting native plants? It’s a good question that many people ask. Here’s 4 reasons: There is a higher diversity of native plants. Often these plants are able to coexist with local wildlife and integrated into the food chains and interactions of native […]

Why plant introduced species?

Written by Thary Gazi Goh To be fair, here is why you should plant introduced plants, or rather when it is appropriate to plant introduced species. Often they are tough and easier to handle. Many commercial species are chosen because they are tough enough to be bred for hostile environments like cities. In some places […]

Spatial complexity

Spatial complexity is a big word, but in simple terms you could imagine it as the difference between a landed house and a condominium. If only one level is occupied like in the house, you get less room to live compared to if you build upwards and have multiple floors.  Like a multi-storey building, spatial […]


Succession is the process in which the plant community changes over time. A forest goes through several stages where different plants become established and in turn change the environment of the forest. Note that this isn’t straightforward process, each stage can have many different species of plants and a very high number of possible combinations […]

Palms as keystone species

Like figs, palms produce fruit several times throughout a year. In between the fruiting seasons of other trees, palms make up a large portion of the diet of many urban fruit eating animals, especially birds. Many palm fruit are adapted to be eaten by birds, these are usually small in size, round and dark blue […]

Case Study Series: Free Tree Society’s Bangsar Nursery

Free Tree Society Kuala Lumpur is a non-profit environmental organisation that spreads environmental stewardship messages through giving away trees for free. Its flagship nursery is located in cosmopolitan Bangsar amidst the backdrop of a former rubber estate, now the Pulai Trail and the last of the area’s green lungs. This nursery is a place for […]

Common fruit trees

Some fruits that often appear on our dining tables are commonly found in our home gardens. These fruit trees bear edible fruits and provide shade for people. Actually, common fruit trees are beneficial to environment as well. Animals use different parts of the trees to feed, rest and lay eggs. Some fruit trees such as […]

Rare fruit trees

What are rare fruits? Known as buah-buahan nadir in Malay, rare fruits are fruits that are not commercially cultivated. They are difficult to find nowadays. Many of them exist naturally in wild environments. Some of these rare fruits trees are mixed with other fruit trees in orchards. Sometimes, people plant these trees as shade trees […]

What does a pond do?

What comes to your mind when you hear of a pond? The word ‘pond’ refers to a body of water that is usually shallow (no more than 2m deep) and smaller than a lake. Unlike a stream or a river, a pond is enclosed. Therefore, pond water is always stagnant. Natural ponds are filled by […]

Case Study Series: Elmina Rainforest Knowledge Centre (ERKC)

The Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC) operates the Elmina Rainforest Knowledge Centre (ERKC) in the City of Elmina of Sime Darby Properties. Together with the Endangered, Rare and Threatened (ERT) Native Tree Nursery, ERKC is located within the 300-acre Central Park in the City of Elmina and is connected to the 2,700-acre Subang […]

Case Study Series: Kebun-Kebun Bangsar

Kebun-Kebun Bangsar is a community garden in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. It is on a small, linear piece of land flanked by houses on both sides. The community garden was initiated by Ng Seksan, a landscape architect, back in 2013. It took the founding team several years to get permission from authorities to use the land. […]