Malaysia: Protecting mangroves at Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Sowing seeds of conservation to protect Kuala Selangor Nature Park
YVONNE T. NATHAN The Star 31 Mar 16;

THE diminishing mangrove forest across Selangor’s coastal areas is worrying fishermen who have seen their income drop because of lower catch of fish and cockles.

Jamaluddin Jafar, 49, and Nasarudin Kamaruzzaman, 45, who live in Kampung Tanjung Keramat, Kuala Selangor, said their dwindling catch was a result of the polluted waterways of the rivers and coastline.

Jamaluddin said the mangrove forests had been decimated because of illegal logging, too.

“Our income has dropped drastically over the past 10 years.

“Our catch is only about 25% of what it used to be in the 1990s.

“The destruction of the mangrove forest has affected marine life as there are fewer fish in the rivers,” said Jamaluddin, adding that soil erosion had made the rivers shallow and murky.

It was proven in the past that when the coastal mangrove receded, there was a chain reaction which affected humans and wildlife.

Nasarudin added that improper waste disposal methods had worsened river pollution.

The duo welcomed efforts to rehabilitate the Kuala Selangor Nature Park through the collaboration between the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd.

Both parties also aimed to make the park Selangor’s first Ramsar-certified wetland. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is a treaty that protected wetlands and prevented development near such places.

Obtaining recognition for the park would protect the ecosystem and ensure proper use of the wetlands and its resources including being a breeding ground for wildlife.

To this end, a master plan was also being drawn up to protect the park and serve as a guide for future improvements.

MNS executive director and Environmental Education Division head I.S. Shanmugaraj said the area was one of the state’s largest producers of cockles.

“The Selangor government is looking at slowly rehabilitating coastal mangrove areas by enhancing and replanting mangrove trees.

“We are currently planting mangrove trees with Naza volunteers under the National Mangrove Replanting programme coordinated by the National Resources and Environment Ministry,” he said.

MNS had also converted an underutilised aviary into a greenhouse for various species of mangrove saplings.

Naza TTDI GMD’s Office assistant general manager Rosmin Wan Mohamed said the company was keen to be involved in an environmental programme.

“As developers, we are obliged to follow certain guidelines to protect the environment.

“At the same time, we also want to educate our staff on the importance of preserving the environment,”

In addition to installing new and more comprehensive signage, the company was also upgrading the walkways and amenities such as the public restrooms.

“We are keen to improvise the park and draw visitors by improving accessibility,” said Rosmin.

Naza TTDI would also lend its expertise in terms of personnel and materials to enhance the park’s facilities.

Shanmugaraj said most of the earlier fittings were put up without considering the park’s environment and its inhabitants.

“While we take steps to improve the park’s infrastructure, we will do our best to ensure the man-made structures such as bird towers blend in with the environment,” he said.

The master plan will include a template for the management of the park, enhancement of its trails, rope bridge, and bird tower as well as rehabilitation of the lake system.

Shanmugaraj said the park fulfilled all the requirements to obtain Ramsar accreditation.

He said MNS planned to apply for the accreditation this year and would update its information on the list of flora and fauna at the park.

“Some of the information is outdated as the surveys were carried out between the 1970s and 1990s,” he said.