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Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve

Located in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, attracting over 1.6 million visitors annually, Penang Hill sits within the northern half of Penang Island which is situated off the coast to the west of Main Island. It has many natural, historical and cultural attractions and it known for its artisanal fishing.  The Penang hill complex is comprised of a series of narrow ridges, the tallest peak standing at 833m tall. The Island presents a mosaic of urban, agricultural and natural landscapes, including terrestrial and marine habitats. The main objectives of the BR are: conservation, eco-systems services, socio-economic development, maintaining cultural identity, tourism and increasing education amongst many more.  

Designation date: 2021


Regional network:  

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 12,481 ha

    • Core area(s): 6,304 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 2,213 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 3,964 ha

    Location: 5° 26' 33.839" N; 100° 12' 51.642" E

    Administrative Authorities

    Penang State Government


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    Ecological Characteristics

    Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is a mosaic of urban, agricultural and natural landscapes, with one of the last coastal rainforests in Malaysia, coastal lowland and hill dipterocarp forests, mangroves, wetlands, sandy beaches and coral reefs. These diverse habitats support a wide range of floral and faunal diversity, including endemic and endangered species such as Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) and migratory birds. Its beaches are common nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. 





    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Penang Hill has been a major tourist attraction and a magnet for colonial officials and botanists in the 19th century. Popular attractions include the Penang Hill railway, the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation centre and many local green businesses and promotion of eco-tourism, to facilitate green practice. Alongside this a lot of visitors tour the Penang Hill hiking sites and trails through the endless beauty.  

    In the Biosphere Reserve 112.3 ha are reserved for agricultural purposes, growing food to sell locally to the community and tourists. The PHBR is an amazing field laboratory also. Through fundamental and innovative research, environmental education and education in sustainability sciences by local universities, many grassroots organisations such as Nature Classrom and Langur Project Pengang, can contribute to overcoming challenges to the local ecosystems.


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    Last updated: June 2022