Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is Malaysia’s 3rd and latest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the conservation list.

The recognition is fitting of the unique natural and cultural heritage of Penang Island and its people.

The official designation of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme in Abuja, Nigeria, on 15 September 2021.

With this designation, the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is a distinguished global network of 714 Biosphere Reserves across 129 countries.

Biosphere Reserves worldwide are celebrated for their exceptional biodiversity and distinct social landscapes and their potential to show innovative living methods in harmony with nature.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve comprises 12,481 hectares of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the north-western part of Penang Island.

The coveted designation recognizes the rich natural and cultural heritage of Penang Island.

It is an opportunity to be part of the Man and the Biosphere program, a unique platform for international collaboration.

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Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO


Where is the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve?

The rainforests of Penang Hill are estimated to be 130 million years old – even older than the Amazon!

The Habitat Penang Hill is a permanent forest reserve home to 170,000 of the world’s 250,000 known species of plants.

This includes 144 species of Orchid diversity Orchidaceae (Orchid family) recorded as occurring on Penang Hill.

There are two ways to get there to view the natural landscapes.

The Habitat Penang Hill is accessible via the Funicular train from Air Itam, Penang, or Jeep Service from the Penang Botanical Garden.

Getting to Penang

You can fly to KL International Airport (KUL) KLIA or Penang International Airport (PEN).

The Habitat Penang Hill is about four hours away from Kuala Lumpur. 3 hr 44 min (356.4 km) via Lebuhraya Utara – Selatan/E1

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Photo: The Habitat, Penang

Penang Hill BioBlitz 2017

In October 2017, The Habitat, with the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), organized a BioBlitz involving 117 scientists and students who studied the biodiversity of flora and fauna on Penang Hill.

Penang Hill BioBlitz Partners includes other local and international institutions, including the following

  • Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Biological Sciences
  • Penang Forestry Department
  • Department of Wildlife and National Park
  • the California Academy of Sciences
  • Malaysian Nature Society
  • WWF Hong Kong

Significantly, the BioBlitz also involved the participation of 75 high school students from Malaysia and the U.S. who took part in a series of facilitated field expeditions.

The expeditions were recorded and broadcast live online through the STEM Education platform Jason Learning bringing the journey to an even wider audience.

View profiles of the scientists and researchers supported by The Habitat Foundation to participate in the Penang Hill Bioblitz 2017 here.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve Background

Since 2017, The Habitat Penang Hill, together with the state government and Universiti Sains Malaysia, set to document the biodiversity of Penang Hill.

The Habitat Penang Hill intended to stimulate interest in nature and emphasize the importance of conserving the living biodiversity heritage.

Under the leadership of the Penang Hill Corporation, with the contribution of many State and Federal government agencies involved in the preparation and eventual submission of the nomination dossier, the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve.

The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve features the timeless forests of Penang Hill and an intact ecosystem that links all from the hill to the sea.

It encompasses the State’s Forest Reserves, the historic Penang Botanical Garden, Penang National Park, and the marine and coastal ecosystems.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

UNESCO Man and Biosphere

Stewardship of Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve

Together with the living communities of these areas, the Biosphere Reserve truly represents the best of Penang.

From now on, the Habitat Group remains committed to showcasing nature on Penang Hill.

Penang Island has the potential to become a significant global center for tropical research and conservation, environmental education, anchoring best practices in sustainable natural resource management.

At a time in our planet’s history, we feel hemmed in by an overdependence and addiction to technology that is harmful to human existence.

Changes in the way we manage the land can alter the breathing of the biosphere.

In turn, the healing power of nature nurtures, sustains and activates our body’s inherent ability to heal itself.

Environmental leadership has never been more critical.

The UNESCO designation confirms the well-invested joint efforts with a history of close collaboration among all key agencies.

This signals the beginning of an exciting and meaningful journey towards a shared, unified vision.

Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

According to Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) board had approved the formation of the unit and second staff to manage PHBR.

With the designation, Chow said Penang Hill is set to become a global center for biodiversity research.

The win and sets forth a challenge to all Penangites to steward it well.

The Habitat Penang Hill provides the most authentic, diverse, and educational Malaysian rainforest experience here.

The Habitat Penang Hill
Jalan Stesen, Bukit Bendera Air Itam,
11500 George Town, Penang.
Mobile: +6019 6457741
WhatsApp: +6019 6457741


Biosphere Reserves

Special unit to manage new Unesco-designated Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve

Designation of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO: a fitting recognition of the unique natural and cultural heritage of Penang Island and its people

“Green Revolution” changes breathing of the biosphere.


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