Malaysia: Having rare species puts Sabah on the mangrove

Daily Express 28 Sep 16;

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah can become a world centre for mangroves and one advantage in realising this is the recent discovery of an extremely rare mangrove tree species – Bruguiera hainesii – in one of the islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, off the State Capital.
"Having the tree here is equivalent to China having pandas," Singaporean plant scientist Prof Dr Jean Yong said.

"The tree species can become another exciting tourism attraction for Sabah."

He said he came to learn about the tree from one Wong Yun Yun, a Malaysia from Penang.

"I provided the scientific confirmation," he said.

The tree grows up to 35 metres, he said, adding that there is another rare species in the peninsula.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Bruguiera hainesii is very rare and has a limited and patchy distribution.

There are approximately 200 known mature individuals remaining in Singapore, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea, and there has been at least 27pc loss of mangrove area in this species range over a 25-year period (less than one generation length) due to extensive coastal development.

The international body has listed it as Critically Endangered.

Hence, he suggested that Sabah take the initiative to set up the world's first centre for mangrove tree species as there are 61 mangrove species in the world of which 53 are in Malaysia.

Dr Yong suggested that information about the existence of the tree in the State be promoted widely within the industry.

Dr Yong announced the discovery to participants in the Second International Symposium on Conservation and Management of Wetlands, Tuesday.

The two-day symposium's theme is "Wetlands: Connectivity, Corridors & Catchments that aims to identify new and innovative ways to conserve wetlands as well as to understand the scientific basis and importance of local stakeholders' involvement in conservation and management of wetlands.

According to Dr Yong, a former associate professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, a holistic approach must be applied in Wetlands conservation and management.

"Key to protecting wetlands is that you need integrated solutions, meaning you have to go from the terrestrial forests down to agriculture lands and coming through urban areas and going down to river.

"To keep mangroves you need to have the whole drainage pattern. That's fundamental," he said.

He also stressed that it is important for people to be aware that mangroves are not limited to the sea areas.

"There are three major types including fresh water mangroves," he said, adding Sabah has all three types.

The symposium was officiated by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun who announced that the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands may attain its RAMSAR status sometime next month, after a long wait.

Also present at the symposium's opening were Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society president Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa and organising chairperson Dr Rahimatsah Amat.

Various topics are covered in plenary sessions by local and international experts throughout the two-day symposium.

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