Can Kuala Lumpur preserve its green space as it aims to become a “top 20 most livable city” by 2020, while its population grows rapidly?
Dr. Kasturi Kanniah, a 2016-2017 Visiting Scholar in the MIT-UTM Malaysia Sustainable Cities Program, studied spatial and temporal changes in green cover in Kuala Lumpur using time-series Landsat satellite imagery. Comparing periods before and after implementation of the “Greening Kuala Lumpur” program (launched in 2011 to increase green cover by planting 100,000 large canopy trees by the year 2020) showed that green cover increased from 2014-2016. Yet open spaces and recreational areas in Kuala Lumpur that have legal protections from development in place, such as metropolitan parks, have still been encroached upon for housing and other uses, and economic development is taking precedence over green cover preservation. Proposed strategies include increasing designated permanent forest reserve and converting vacant land into pocket parks that are convenient for pedestrians to access. Find Dr. Kanniah’s comparative satellite images of green cover gain and loss in KL, with further analysis and recommendations, in her recently published paper, “Quantifying Green Cover Change for Sustainable Urban Planning: A Case of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”