Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More good tidings

Good news or bad news? Which should come first?

I think we should deal with the bad news first and get it out of the way. According to The Star, the mangrove forests in Pulau Ketam, Pulau Tengah and Pulau Klang – all located off Port Klang – are fast depleting due to over-logging. Villagers claimed that about 80% of mature mangrove trees had been felled in the cluster of islands, and that even the young trees were not spared by illegal loggers. Young trees measuring seven to 10cm in diameter were being felled. It seemed only young mangrove trees were left in the forest and this had apparently created an imbalance in the ecosystem.

Now the GOOD NEWS.

In line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call for the preservation of mangrove swamps following the tsunami disaster in December, the Selangor Forestry Department said it will be submitting a proposal soon to the state council to convert the mangrove forest in Pulau Ketam and the surrounding area into a forest reserve. Its director Nik Mohd Shah Nik Mustafa said “It’s curently state land but we want it to become a forest reserve so that it can be preserved and rehabilitated. There will be tighter control once it becomes a forest reserve as loggers have to follow forest reserve rules and regulations, which includes buffer zones. (The Department are working with university experts to map out a new forest management plan for the state, especially to better manage mangrove forests.) They are expected to start working on the plan next month. We hope to complete it by the end of this year and implement it by next year once it is approved.”

Even more GOOD NEWS. Gold Coast Project to be scaled down.

The ambitious Sepang Gold Coast multi-billion-ringgit beach resort project will be scaled down drastically to protect the ecology of the area.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, confirmed that the state would scale down the RM4bil project due to environmental concerns, said "For now, the Sepang Gold Coast project is stopped temporarily, along with other projects in sensitive areas, such as the U10 housing development near Bukit Cahaya.”

The project would only be built on a 60ha area now, about one-tenth of the earlier proposed 604ha Sepang Gold Coast. Instead of a massive holiday paradise complete with a Jurassic theme park, a nature resort, an open zoo and even a replica of the Venice canal, the “revised” Sepang Gold Coast will be just a cosy hideaway featuring clusters of water chalets “branching” out into the sea like a palm tree.

The (Gold Coast) project involved land reclamation and the destroying of mangrove swamps in the ecology-sensitive Bagan Lalang-Tanjung Sepat shoreline.

Even more, more GOOD NEWS. Johor rehabilitates swamp on Forestry Day

The Johore state government marked the 34th World Forestry Day celebration by replanting some 3,000 bakau seedlings at a mangrove swamp in Kampung Seri Menanti.

The replanting was carried out after bakau trees in the area were felled by mistake following the construction of a canal along the coast recently. State Forestry Department director Hashim Hassan said Johor decided to rehabilitate the area to ensure the mangrove swamp continued to become a natural buffer zone. Some of the 600 participants busy replanting 'bakau' seedlings at the mangroves swamp in Johor Monday. Hashim said besides Kampung Seri Menanti, the department would also carry out replanting projects at other mangrove forests, which had been damaged by development activities. The department had identified about 60ha of degraded mangrove forests in Johor and had received RM250,000 to rehabilitate them this year. He said the Dec 26 tsunami, which destroyed coastal areas in many countries, had prompted the Government to call for greater protection of such areas. The forests, besides providing shelter and food to marine life, also protected the land along the coasts from erosion and if they were destroyed, the land would be exposed to destruction.