Archive for November, 2008

Japanese firm in tree-planting project

Posted on November 30, 2008. Filed under: International Solidarity |

Kota Kinabalu: Japanese company, Fujitsu Group Malaysia, together with several organisations embarked on a tree-planting project at its Eco Forest Park in Kinarut, near here, from Nov 28 to Dec 1.

The project kicked off with 31 members of the Fujitsu Group from Japan and 19 members of the Advantest Corporation on Thursday, while on Friday, 30 members from four Fujitsu Group of companies and 21 members of the Kota Kinabalu Japanese elementary school took part in the same activity.

The group will follow up the activity with weeding and removing of unwanted trees on Monday (Dec 1), while the next day, an environmental awareness class will be held which, among others, highlights the benefits of 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

Since Nov 2006, the company had carried out six reforestation operation where a total of 37, 500 seedlings have been planted covering an area of about 150 hectares.

The tree-planting project at the Eco Park started with the first phase (from 2002-2004) involving an area of 70 hectares while a further 70 hectares was planted with Dipterocarpaceas seedlings in the second phase (2005-2007).

Fujitsu joined the Business and Biodiversity Conference by signing a Leadership Conference on May 9, 2008 at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany.

Apart from Malaysia, the company is also involved in other reforestation activities in other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

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Bird status is certain if habitat secure

Posted on November 29, 2008. Filed under: Eco-tourism, Ecology |

Kota Kinabalu: With Sabah now hoping to become the new bird watching destination, the challenge is already being seen as one of making it sustainable, i.e. to make it last or permanently attractive.

The Sandakan Bird Fair will be launched today (Saturday) Sabah’s first, which pairs off with a Zoom Malaysia big do at Rainforest Discover Centre (RDC). Then comes the Borneo International Bird Festival in 2009.

Photographer Cede Prudente said a distinct attribute among bird watchers is that they are sensitive, don’t like noise, don’t like crowds.

But once the human “bird” traffic flow grow, then a consistent framework to control the day-to-day behaviour will be needed.

As bird watching interest grows, it might invite a rush who may be just interested only in taking winning pictures, not appreciating birds or care much about ecological imperatives.

But looking at it positively, the birders club may have a new opportunity to educate the public about forest protection. State Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi said he realised bird watching can be a powerful force to protect what remains of pristine forests in Sabah.

Birds probably planted a great deal of the rainforests of Borneo – the original farmers of our famous forests merely by playing the role of seed dispersers.

“They are seed dispersers and since they are the most mobile of all animals, birds are able to transfer seeds from one place to another more effectively,” said Dr Arthur Chung.

He cited a lot of the orchids, the epiphytes,”Actually the seeds are brought up there by birds!” Dr Chung pointed out.

Habitat security also becomes an issue as Sabah starts pushing bird watching.

So habitat security is food security for our endemic birds as special birds feed on special foods.

Bird food web in pristine forests is sensitive and go deeper than most people realised. Food security for very special birds, the endemic birds, must therefore be protected. No special food, no special birds.

Expert birders noted that special bird presence exclusive to Sabah and Borneo collapse the moment they enter oil palm territory.

Special birds are what die-hard bird watchers fly across the globe to see and the Bornean bristle head is one example.

It is beautiful, unique to Borneo. Its sighting is sought after. It is a predator as it eats bugs, according to Cede Prudente.

And cicada is a favourite meal of the Bornean bristlehead! Cicada nymphs or larvae live underground for years.

They burrow deep into the forest soils. That’s where they make their house.

That’s where they live 99 percent of their life ( 2 years, 5 years, 8 years, etc) before they tunnel up, crawl to sides of trees to metamorphorsise, when its skin splits down the back, abruptly develop wings after being inflated and dried which suddenly equips it with a miraculous capacity to fly up to the canopy.

Late afternoon to dark, males make their choruses of calls to attract mates, then die in a matter of days or weeks!

Each species makes a distinctive call that attracts only females of its own Mating over, the females slit tree stems where they deposit the eggs which later hatch into nymphs, make their way down and burrow into soil and repeat stages of growth called ‘instars” before metapmorphorsising again.

“One species in the US is known to live underground for 17 years before it crawls out of its underground hideout, put on wings and fly off!”

marvelled enthomologist Dr Arthur Chung, a Senior Researcher with the Forest Research Centre, Sandakan.- Daily Express

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Govt may ban use of plastic bags

Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

KOTA BARU: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is now studying the possibility of banning the use of plastic bags at supermarkets and wet markets in a bid to protect the environment.

Instead, the ministry may recommend that all shoppers bring along their own containers when purchasing goods at such premises.

Deputy Minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan said the ministry would consider such an option in view of concerns over the environment especially with the effects of global warming taking root now.

If such a measure is taken, enforcement is needed besides the support from all Malaysians, Maznah said before presenting a talk to 100 women who represented female non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the Renaissance Hotel here.

“There is a chance of adopting this move. Now, the Government is stepping up efforts to generate awareness about environmental issues. If there is a consensus, we can move ahead.

“For now, there are some supermarket operators in Kuala Lumpur who have introduced a policy whereby shoppers who want to use plastic bags have to purchase them,” she said.

Maznah praised their efforts in helping curb pollution as plastics are non-biodegradeable products.

Maznah however declined to reveal when the banning of plastic bags would be enforced, saying the study is ongoing.

Later, she also briefed the NGOs on the effects of global warming and its threats to the earth’s ozone layer.

( By Ian Mcintyre, The Star)

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MNS:Stop logging as scheduled

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Ecology, Forestry/Wetlands |

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 (Bernama) — While Sarawak is known as the Land of the Hornbills, the Belum Temenggor Forest in Perak is considered the `Nest of the Hornbills’.

The ten hornbill species found here are among the many natural treasures in the 130 million year old tropical rain forest that is believed to be far older than the Amazon in South America and Congo in Africa.

hornbill
The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), along with other parties, is playing the guardian role for the protected forest from the destructive forces like development and logging.

MNS president Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor noted that since the first expedition in 1993, involving more than 100 scientists and 300 volunteers, numerous new flora and fauna have been found in the forest.
(more…)

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Health fears over WiFi Project

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods, Environmental Science |

More protest WiFi plan

Another group has been formed to raise concerns over Penang Government’s free state-wide WiFi plan under its Wireless@Penang project.Launched yesterday, the Penang Environmental and Health Con- cerns Awareness Group comprises 10 members.

Its spokesman Ding Thoun Yee said: “We are concerned with the effects of wireless technologies which may harm the human immune system.”

The wireless system’s emissions may also cause cancer, he claimed at a press conference.

Health fears:Group members holding posters protesting the wireless project at the press conference.

He said the state government had ignored the power of the citizens’ choice.

However, when a reporter asked if they had raised their objections at a recent public forum on the issue, they admitted that they did not attend the event which was opened by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

And when another reporter asked if they could provide medical proof on the harmful effects of wireless technologies, they also said they did not have any.

On Nov 13, the Penang Wireless Campaign Group was set up with a similar aim.

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槟环保小组:检讨无线上网计划

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods, Environmental Science |

环保小组吁关注辐射后遗症 智选槟无线热点

(槟城25日讯)“如果要真正落实‘猫’政府,请不要拿我们当白老鼠!”

槟州政府宣布未来两年内在槟州落实免费无线上网计划引发的反对声浪今日再添一桩,这次是由刚成立的槟城人民关心环保健康觉醒小组发出。

该团将继反对槟城无线运动组织后,成为第二个反对槟州政府落实无线上网的团体。该团发言人陈道义在记者会上表示,未来将与反对槟城无线运动组织联手走进人群展开签名运动,要求政府重新检讨槟城无线上网计划。

难接受无线电磁波笼罩

他表示,无法接受无线电磁波笼罩在住宅区、学校、医院、公园及图书馆等孩童及公众休息及休闲处,“槟州既然是个旅游城,游客们前来旅游也是希望能够来这里放松心情,而不是接受电磁波。”

他继说,该团并无意完全制止州政府落实无线上网,只是希望州政府能够有智慧的选择无线上网的热点,而不是24小时让槟州人民覆盖在充满着辐射的无线上网范围内。

“很多数据已经明确的显示,无线上网对人体的健康是有害的,如果政府执意要落实这项计划,那么先请政府在听取民意之外,也前往有关国家实地考察。”

“虽然之前州政府已经办过一场与人民、各个组织代表对话会,实际上并没有多少个民众详细的接收到有关活动讯息的通知。”

不排除与州政府对话

他表示,该团不排除与槟州政府在进行一场对话会,届时将邀请外国相关的患者现身说法。

“政府必须在人民的健康和发展之间寻找出一个平衡点,不要等待无线电磁波引发了病变后才作出任何的补偿。” (Kwong Wah Yit Poh)

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Book release! “Biodiversity of Sungai Pulai, Ramsar Site”

Posted on November 24, 2008. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Forestry/Wetlands |

Focus on mangrove areas

JOHOR BARU: The richness and uniqueness of the Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve has been documented in a coffeetable book entitled Biodiversity of Sungai Pulai, Ramsar Site, Johor.

The book was published by the Earth Observation Centre of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Hardy species: The bakau minyak mangrove tree flowers in two’s (rarely in four’s) on stout peduncles.

UEM Land Bhd sponsored the publication of 1,500 copies of the book with a RM100,000 contribution.

It will be distributed to academic institutions, public libraries and schools in Gelang Patah under the Smart School project.

(more…)

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Safoda works with Ovas to develop Kinarut Eco Park

Posted on November 24, 2008. Filed under: Ecology, Forestry/Wetlands, International Solidarity |

Japanese help to further develop Eco Park

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Forestry Development Authority (Safoda) is collaborating with Japanese non-governmental organisation (NGO), Overseas Volunteer Activity Support (Ovas), to further develop the Eco-Forest Park at Kinarut.

Safoda will be working with Ovas, with the support of the Greenery Fund of Japan, to plant 1,600 fruit trees (wild durian and clone mango) on 3.5 hectares within the Park.

A tree-planting ceremony was held at the Park, Saturday, to commemorate the collaboration, in the presence of Safoda’s Research and Development (R&D) Division manager Crispin Kitingan, Japanese Consul-General Masashi Kono, chairman of Ovas, Susumu Chida and Director of Ovas, Dr Kazuko Tsuzuki.

About 35 volunteers from Japan, Rotary Club of Luyang and students from S.M Shan Tao took part in the half-day tree-planting activity.

Earlier, Safoda General Manager Francis G. Otigil extended his gratitude to the Greenery Fund of Japan and Ovas for funding the planting of 3.5ha of fruit trees and for providing funds for the maintenance of access roads.

“Despite the small scale of funding, I was made to understand that this is just a starting point of their efforts to assist Safoda in realising the plan for the development of the park,” he said in his speech delivered by Crispin.

“I hope the good relations between the people of Japan and Malaysia will continue to be strengthened and that Ovas and other donors continue their noble efforts of conserving and preserving the environment through this kind of projects,” he added.

According to Otigil, the Safoda Kinarut project is the Research and Development Centre for the production of improved planting materials of the Acacia mangrium and acacia hybrid species and it is now popularly known to the Japanese as the Safoda Kinarut Eco Forest Park.

He said to date more than 200ha of indigenous tropical timber of different species have been planted.

Meanwhile, Masashi Kono said the project would support the restoration of multifunctional tropical forests and contribute to the furtherance of awareness of environmental protection in the local communities.

He said, in this context, the Government of Japan is providing Official Development Assistance in the field of technical cooperation by dispatching experts and volunteers for such programmes as the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Programme as well as providing funds to support the research and development for the preservation of the tropical forest in Sabah.

Chida, meanwhile, said Ovas has been studying various ways to support the development of the Park and arranged some funding from the Greenery Fund of Japan and collaborated with Safoda to plant fruit trees in the Park.

He said although the plan is small in scale, aside from the harvest of the fruits in the future the planting will also to a certain extent contribute to the restoration of the forest to help reduce global warming.–Daily Express

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Sixth Ramsar site: Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands

Posted on November 24, 2008. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Ecology |

Ramsar Recognition For Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands

KINABATANGAN, Nov 24 (Bernama) – Nature lovers in Malaysia, especially those in Sabah have welcomed the announcement that the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands have been recognized as a Ramsar site.

The recognition is significant, as the wetlands comprise rarely-found coastal mangrove swamps and peat jungles.

This recent development would add impetus for efforts on conserving the worlds almost extinct animal species like the Sumatran rhinocerous, proboscis monkey and pygmy elephants.

The recognition was announced at the 10th conference of the Ramsar Convention signatories on wetlands held at Changwon, South Korea last Oct 28. Ramsar Convention Deputy Secretary General Dr Nick Davidson presented the certificate of recognition to Sabah Biodiversity Centre (BSC) Director Abdul Fatah Amir.

Any wetlands that obtained the recognition would be able to obtain assistance from the Ramsar Fund for implementation of biodiversity conservation programmes.

The Ramsar Convention is an informal name accorded on the convention on wetlands that have international significance, particularly concerning habitats of water fowls.

The Ramsar Secretariat shares its headquarters with the World Conservation Union in Gland, Switzerland.

CONSERVATION EFFORTS

For the SBC, that took shape only last May, the recognition accorded on the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands as a Ramsar site is the agency’s maiden experience towards implementing biodiversity conservation programmes in Sabah.

According to Abdul Fatah, the SBC was established under the Sabah Biodiversity Council as a result of the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Programme II that involved the collaboration between the Sabah government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

He said SBC played a significant role in moving and coordinating the operations of agencies in Sabah in the biodiversity conservation aspect.

According to Abdul Fatah, the primary objective behind the setting up of the SBC was to work towards achieving the Ramsar recognition for the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama wetlands.

“This had been achieved”, he said.

“We have planned several biodiversity programmes at this Ramsar site including that on managing, developing information system and formulating rules and regulations in this area,” he said.

He said achieving the Ramsar recognition for the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands was a momentous moment as the wetlands comprises of coastal mangrove swamps and peat jungles rarely found in the world.

“It is also the home of almost extinct wildlife like the Sumatran rhinocerous, Borneo pygmy elephant and proboscis monkey”, he told Bernama during a media visit to the wetlands recently.

During the visit, journalists were taken in a boat ride along the Kinabatangan River to view the biodiversity there.

BIGGEST RAMSAR LOCATION IN MALAYSIA

He said the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands was the first Ramsar site in Sabah and the biggest in Malaysia.

The area is Malaysia’s sixth Ramsar site. It spreads over more than 78,803 hectares (ha) of peat jungles and mangrove swamps at the east coast of Sabah.

The Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands has three forest reserves — Trusan Kinabatangan Reserve Forest (40,471 ha), Kulamba Wildlife Forest Reserve (20,682ha) and Kuala Maruap-Kuala Segama Forest Reserve (17,650ha).

Hence, the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands was significantly larger than the other five Ramsar locations in Malaysia that measure a total of 55,355 ha, he said.

The other Ramsar sites in Malaysia are the Taman Negara Wetlands Kuching (Sarawak), Pulau Kukup (Johor), Sungai Pulai (Johor), Tanjung Piai (Johor) and Tasek Bera in Pahang.

BENEFIT FOR VILLAGERS

The recognition of the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands as a Ramsar site is good news to the residents who stay in areas fringing the jungles there.

Among the villages located near this location are Kampung Abai, Kampung Sri Ganda, Kampung Mumiang, Kampung Tidung and Kampung Dagat.

The headman for Kampung Abai, Jamal Ingeu, 58, said the new status of the wetlands would augur well for the conservation and protection of the coastal mangrove and peat jungles and the wildlife habitat there.

He said the wildlife at the wetlands was important, as it is an attraction for tourists and nature lovers.

The tourists came to view closely the Borneo pygmy elephants, proboscis monkey and Orang Utan.

“This is also good for villagers like us who are fishermen and who depend on the mangrove swamps and rivers at the wetlands in this newly-declared Ramsar site”, Jamal told Bernama.

He said the wetlands provided the fishermen with crabs, fish and prawns enabling them to earn a living.

There are some 200 people in this village, the majority of them being fishermen.

Jamal also said the villagers should refrain from chopping down trees in the wetlands to make the traps and snares for the aquatic life there.

They should be using traps made from plastics instead of wood, he added.

LIVELIHOOD OF FISHERMEN

Kampung Mumiang headman, Basrah Putrah, 60, said the Ramsar recognition accorded on the mangrove jungles near the village enables stricter enforcement by the authorities to curb encroachment and illegal felling of trees in the area.

“Mangrove jungles at this Ramsar site have to be protected for the conservation of the fish crab and prawn habitats.

“This is important as the fishermen here are depending on this area for their livelihood,” he said, adding that the village has a population of some 400, most of them fishermen.

(Haslin Gaffor , BERNAMA)

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WWF: Mabul Island over-developed

Posted on November 22, 2008. Filed under: Eco-tourism, Pollution, Water resource |

WWF Malaysia against Mabul oceanarium development

mabul-island

KOTA KINABALU: WWF Malaysia is against the controversial oceanarium development plan for Mabul, saying the island was already over-developed.

Studies carried out on the island and its surrounding waters revealed that 85% of the island had already been cleared for village housing, schools, budget homestay accommodation as well as five-star resorts, WWF Malaysia communications manager Angela Lim said.

She also said that 80% of the coral reef sites surrounding Mabul Island were used up by operators for muck diving, with 50% of the reefs shared between the diving sector and villagers for fishing.

“As the hub of the tourism industry in Semporna, Mabul Island has the potential to act as a coral reef management centre,” she said in a statement following the disclosure that the state has given the green light for an oceanarium resort on the shallows of Mabul.

She said WWF Malaysia had discovered that waters surrounding the island were also partly polluted due inadequate wastewater treatment and poor solid waste management to handle the land-based sources of pollution from villagers and resorts.

“Tourists have been complaining of over-crowding on the island over the past two years, which indicates a growing loss of wilderness value. The resources of island — the land, coral reefs and coastal waters — are already heavily used,” Lim said.

It was better to allow young marine life to regenerate by protecting their natural habitat as artificial reefs did not bring more fish, she said, adding that damaged coral reefs and their resident fish population can recover simply by stopping any threats that plague them.

The Sabah state government has given the green light for the oceanarium project. However, the Land and Survey Department has yet to issue the land title as it is imposing stringent conditions for the oceanarium project proposed by local company Bina Ecosaba Sdn Bhd.

Among the conditions were that it should comply with environment regulations and be of low density in the eco-sensitive Mabul, just nine nautical miles from the diving haven of Sipadan. ( Muguntan Vanar,The Star)

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