Malaysia consists of 13 states and three federal territories. Eleven states and two federal territories (i.e., Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) are located in Peninsular Malaysia, while the two states of Sabah and Sarawak are located on the island of Borneo. Malaysia is considered as one of the world’s megadiverse countries and ranks 12th in the world, according to the National Biodiversity Index. Located near the equator, its climate is ideal for supporting a vast and diverse range of ecosystems, habitats and species, from microscopic organisms such as bacteria, to mammals, birds and shes.
Approximately 60 per cent of the total land area of Malaysia is still forested. This includes permanent reserved forests (PRF), stateland forests, national parks, and wildlife and bird sanctuaries. The remaining 40 per cent are covered by agricultural crops, rubber plantations, oil palm plantations, urban areas and other uses. The terrestrial biodiversity of Malaysia is concentrated in tropical rainforests that extend from coastal plains to mountain areas, with inland waters such as lakes and rivers. Marine biodiversity (e.g., coral reefs and seagrasses) is found among its islands and marine and coastal ecosystems. In 2007, 143,000 square kilometers, or 43.3 per cent of the total land area of Malaysia, had been published as permanent reserved forest and 19,000 square kilometers, or 5.9 per cent of the total land area, were published as national parks, wildlife and bird sanctuaries. In the same year, 2,357 square kilometers of marine protected areas were also managed.
In terms of flora, Malaysia has an estimated 15,000 species of vascular plants, of which about 8,300 are found in Peninsular Malaysia and about 12,000 species are in Sabah and Sarawak. There are 229 species of mammals found in Peninsular Malaysia and 221 species found in Sabah and Sarawak, of which 152 species are similar. A recorded total of 742 species of birds belonging to 85 families may also be found in the country. Out of these, 43 are endemic. There are also 242 known species of amphibians and 567 species of reptiles. There are 290 species of freshwater fish existing in Peninsular Malaysia. Although inventory figures for Sabah list 100 species, and 200 species for Sarawak, these are believed to be underestimates because inventories for these areas started later compared to that of Peninsular Malaysia. There are about 500 species of marine fish recorded in the country, with more than 400 species recorded in coastal areas and river estuaries, and more than 450 recorded offshore in Sabah and Sarawak alone. In relation to insect biodiversity, there are 936 species of butterflies found in Sabah and Sarawak, 1,031 butterfly species in Peninsular Malaysia, and approximately 1,700 species of beetles in Sabah. Moreover, there are 1,200 recorded ant species and more than 200,000 ant specimens available.