Malaysia: Matang mangroves -- A jewel in the mud

T. AVINESHWARAN The Star 24 Aug 16;

THE MATANG Mangrove Forest is already recognised by Unesco as one of the world’s best-managed mangrove forests, and now Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar wants Guinness World Records to also recognise it as as the world’s best-managed mangrove forest.

Speaking to reporters after launching the National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day at the Matang Mangrove Forest, Wan Junaidi said if Guinness recognises the forest, it will help boost eco-tourism in the country.

“This is going to be a long process and I will start discussions with the state government and other stakeholders. They’ve certainly managed this area well.”

Wan Junaidi said the authorities tasked with the care of the are are well-versed in sustainable development and are able to control the activities in the forest.

“People use the wood of mangrove trees for charcoal, but the authorities have a system and they make sure the trees for charcoal are managed well.

“This resource must be well looked after but we should also see the economic side of it. So far, we have been managing these resources well and making sure we benefit economically,” he said in a press conference after launching the event and planting some trees in the mangrove area.

National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day is in line with the government’s effort to conserve and maintain mangrove forests to ensure that they can perform their role in the ecosystem as a buffer zone that provides a natural protection from the sea, and a rich economic resource for the people.

Wan Junaidi said his ministry has conducted studies on mangrove species and also conservation efforts along Malaysia’s shores since 2005, after a tsunami struck certain areas in the country in 2004.

“This effort is being carried out simultaneously around the country and we’ve involved various agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and the public.

“The total area involved under this programme up to July this year is 1,059ha with 6.4 million trees planted,” he said to reporters.

State Energy and Water Committee Chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said Malaysia is one of the twelve countries to have various kinds forests and Larut Matang area is internationally recognised by environmentalist and environmental organisations.

“Mangrove forest are vital because of their uniqueness the role they play in nature and there are various types in Malaysia.”

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve was gazetted as Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906 it contains rich and diverse flora and fauna that attracts nature lovers to visit and explore the wetlands.

Near the reserve the Perak State Forestry Department is cultivating the Rhizophora, Lenggadai and Seaward berus mangrove species.

The area is also the breeding ground for crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, lobsters, horseshoe crabs and prawns as well as fish and shellfish.

During his visit to the forest reserve, Wan Junaidi together with the other guests took a walk on a wooden walkway to get a closer look at the mangrove trees and the animals that live in the muddy areas of the mangrove ecosystem.

He also took the opportunity to plant some trees at the area and mingled with the Forestry Department officers to get a feel of the work they are doing in the forest reserve.

In a separate matter, Wan Junaidi acknowledged that some cities in the country have recorded moderate Air Pollutant Index readings over the last week and said the haze season is back.

Wan Junaidi said this is due to forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

But he said things have changed as the Indonesian authorities are taking swift action to combat forest fires though the effects of it are still being felt in Malaysia.

“It hasn’t reached a critical stage but I will write a letter to Indonesia Forestry and Environment Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya Bakar to tell her that the haze is coming here.

“We don’t want to pick a fight, but we just want to notify them that the haze is here,” he said to reporters.

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