Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Mangrove ecosystem’s importance not understood

Thursday, February 14th, 2019
The Sungai Bukit Tambun mangrove area. Mangroves contribute to coastal protection from erosion and extreme weather changes. FILE PIC

MANGROVE forests are a unique ecosystem which are located between the land and sea.

Mangroves can be found in 118 countries in the world, representing one per cent of the tropical forest worldwide, and less than 0.4 per cent of the world forests. Mangrove swamps provide a very important ecosystem to both human life and the diversity of life that inhabits it.

Firstly, humans are highly dependent on the products of the mangrove forest, which are its timber resources and fishery resources. Mangroves are the breeding grounds and early growth areas of various species of ocean life living on coral reefs.

Next, mangroves contribute to coastal protection from erosion and protect the environment from extreme weather changes. Besides this, the mangrove forest is important in maintaining water quality, trapping sediments and filtering pollutants originating from activities in the surrounding areas. This is compatible with the Quranic verse which means: “He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth; according to His calculations” (Surah Al-Sajdah, 32: 5).

Unfortunately, not many are aware of the importance of the mangrove ecosystem, causing them to be neglected, thus leading to the threat of its extinction. This is evident throughout Malaysia today in which mangroves are becoming increasingly threatened by various unhealthy human activities, such as reclamation of land for aquaculture, agriculture, industry or housing, coastal resort development, ports, roads, airports and oil exploration; widespread logging; and pollution.

It was recently reported that the sole surviving mangrove forest on government land located in the middle of Pekan Baru Batu Maung and adjacent to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Park was being threatened by irresponsible dumping of construction and industrial wastes.

Such activity had harmed the river across the mangrove swamp, turning it brackish and mixed with solids, along with the waste material disposed of at the dumpsite catching fire and scorching some of the mangrove tress that surrounded the open ground.

Such an incident should not have happened. Instead, the Batu Maung mangrove should have been given better protection, and it needs urgent as well as stringent action by all parties concerned be they local, state and federal governments to ensure that the sole remaining mangrove is fully protected and conserved.

All parties should be aware that the mangrove ecosystem is a valuable asset to the country and is among the region’s most productive ecosystems in the world. Not only is it an important area of human life, but it also has benefits to the overall ecosystem and economy.

The survival of the mangrove ecosystem is also important because of its great function in helping to protect coastal areas as well as controlling erosion. As an example, the mangrove ecosystem acts as wind-breakers, protecting against strong winds at coastlines. If the mangrove ecosystems continue to be destroyed, then the affected areas will be exposed to rainstorms, floods and erosion.

Yet, many still do not realise the importance of the mangrove ecosystems. In fact, it was found that the current level of public awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems is still relatively low in comparison to other ecosystems. This has led to conservation efforts of the ecosystem to reach a critical level in Malaysia.

In preserving the mangrove swamp ecosystems, efforts to foster awareness among communities should be done proactively, so that the ecosystems are not marginalised, which can then contribute to their extinction in the future. Perceptions of some members of the community who consider mangroves as idle ecosystems need to be changed.

Such people should be given appropriate exposure in terms of accurate information and knowledge from time to time on the ecosystem which also has its own important role as supplied by other ecosystems.

This effort is crucial in order for the survival of the mangrove ecosystem to be maintained not only for the benefit of humans, but also its survival as an important habitat for plants and animals rarely found in other ecosystems.

For such an effort, all parties need to be committed to ensuring that efficient management of the mangrove ecosystem can be achieved by trying to address the weaknesses of the past management system, enhancing knowledge of the mangrove ecosystem and sharing accurate information with all levels of society.

In addition, the restoration of mangrove ecosystems needs to be the main agenda in the sustainable development of the country. The high commitment at the leadership level towards this effort is necessary to ensure proactive action is taken in order to sustain the sustainability of mangrove ecosystems.

For example, mangrove replanting efforts should be taken seriously by getting the community to be involved in the activity to understand and learn more about the existence of the ecosystem in the future. Their participation in such activities will certainly raise awareness amongst them to safeguard and preserve the mangrove ecosystems.

By Rosmidzatul Azila Mat Yamin.

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Hot weather till middle of year

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Azemi Daud

KOTA KINABALU: The hot weather in Sabah is expected to prevail until May or until the middle of this year.

Sabah Meteorological Department director Azemi Daud told the Borneo Post that the temperature will not be too extreme.

“The cause is the weak El Nino which is expected to continue up until the middle of this year,” he said.

Azemi also said that this will result in lower rainfall in Sabah by 20 percent to 40 percent from the monthly average.

by Jenne Lajiun

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Hot weather, less rain in Sabah

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Azemi Daud

KOTA KINABALU: The hot weather and minimal rain Sabah is experiencing now is expected to prolong for a week but the temperature remains normal, according to the Sabah Meteorological Department.

Its director, Azemi Daud, said yesterday the maximum temperature in the state currently was 33 degrees Celsius, which he pointed out was normal.

“The department will continue to monitor the temperature and issue a warning should a heat wave phenomenon occur,” he told Bernama.

Azemi said that based on the survey of international climate models, there was a 90 per cent probability of the El Nino phenomenon occurring in Sabah up to March and a 60 per cent probability of it prolonging until May.

As such, he advised the people to refrain from open burning and to save water.

The MetMalaysia website has forecast minimum temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius and maximum temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius as well as scattered rainfall in the state up to Jan 19.


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Climate change and human health

Monday, December 31st, 2018

(File pix) Constant exposure to hot weather can have a serious effect on people’s health. Pix by NSTP/ Muhd Asyraf Sawal

THE 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—the most important climate conference since the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 — ended on Dec 15 with the adoption of the Katowice Rulebook.

Though it is one further step forward, action to confront global warming is still wanting. Most countries’ current climate targets will not be enough to limit global warming to significantly under 2°C and ideally to 1.5°C.

Without further efforts, the global temperature could increase by over 3°C by 2100. The foreseeable effects of climate change would pose too great a challenge for many countries.

Late last month, international researchers under the ambit of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change sent a chilling warning to the world: climate change is affecting our health. More people than ever are vulnerable to heat exposure globally, and numbers are rising.

The report analyses 41 indicators tracking the link between climate change and health. And while the authors noted “a lot of variability year on year”, the evident trend suggests we should expect heat wave events to spike higher.

We’re starting to feel this already. This summer marked a record in many parts of the world, with much higher temperatures than most populations are used to.

The latest report estimates that 42 per cent of over-65s in Europe and 43 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean are already vulnerable to heat exposure; 38 per cent of this group are vulnerable in Africa and 34 per cent in Asia.

Dr Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet project, highlighted a recent study suggesting that 2018 heat waves across Europe were made twice as likely as a result of climate change.

“Assigning attribution for every single event is difficult, but it’s clear that these sorts of events are examples of what is likely to come if we don’t rapidly respond to climate change,” he said.

Small changes in temperature and rainfall will not only lower productivity and crop yields, it will impact health by helping to spread infectious diseases. For example, the capacity of the dengue virus to spread has increased by 7.8 per cent since the 1950s, the report found.

The seasonal capacity for the Aedes mosquito — the primary species spreading Zika, dengue and chikungunya — and its ability to spread has lengthened and strengthened, the report says.

2016 set a new record for dengue transmission, and the spread is expected to rise in step with average global temperatures.

Levels of global cholera bacteria are also worrying. From the 1980s to the 2010s, the US witnessed a 27 per cent increase in coastline areas suitable for Vibrio infections.

The report shows half of 478 global cities surveyed stated that their public health structure will be seriously compromised by climate change. The health threats are expected to overwhelm services and extreme weather events pose a direct threat to health services.

Global spending on climate adaptation for health is at 4.8 per cent — too little, the researchers say, noting that Europe and Southeast Asia are the biggest spenders.

In a 2015 assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UNFCCC, Malaysia was said to face numerous potential threats to health and development due to climate change. Among the futures foreseen by the assessment:

IF high emissions continue, mean annual temperature rises by about 4°C on average from 1990 to 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly, temperature rise is limited to about 1.1°C.

IF high emissions continue, and without large investments in adaptation, an annual average of 234,500 Malaysians are projected to be affected by flooding due to sea level rise between 2070 and 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly and there is a major scale up in protection (i.e. continued construction/raising of dikes) the annual affected population could be almost eliminated.

Adaptation alone will not offer sufficient protection, as sea level rise is a longterm process, with high emissions scenarios bringing increasing impacts well beyond the end of the century.

IF high emissions continue, heat-related deaths among the elderly (65+ years) are projected to increase to almost 45 deaths per 100,000 by 2080 compared to the estimated baseline of under one death per 100,000 annually between 1961 and 1990. A rapid reduction in emissions could limit heat-related deaths in the elderly to just over six deaths per 100,000 in 2080.

The WHO/UNFCCC assessment notes some opportunities for action. The country should continue refining its National Policy on Climate Change which incorporates health perspectives. Malaysia is implementing projects on health adaptation to climate change, building institutional and technical capacities to work on climate change and health, and has conducted a national assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for health.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

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Water is life, use it wisely, don’t waste it

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

MALAYSIA is a country rich in water resources. In 2016, it recorded 907 million cubic meters (m3 ) of annual rainfall. The average annual rainfall is quite high, between 2,000mm and 4,000mm a year. The abundant quantity of water resources allows us to sell water to neighbouring Singapore.

On providing water to consumers, 95 per cent of the population have access to water. The country’s water tariffs are also among the lowest in the world.

There is also no limit on the use of water. With the wealth of water resources, it seems impossible that we would face water shortages. But, unfortunately, we do.

Since the 1970s the country has faced several water crises — in 1977 and 1978 in Peninsular Malaysia’s northwest; 1982 and 1991 in Kedah and Perlis (the Pedu and Muda Dam), 1998 in Kedah, Penang and Kuala Lumpur (as an impact of the El Nino) and in 2002 drought which affected Perlis and caused a water shortage.

The water crises have led to water rationing and affected the life and wellbeing of many users. In 2014, when there was an unusually dry season, the water rationing lasted for months. In 2016, 85,000 people in Johor faced water rations due to low water levels in water treatment plants.

Malaysia also faces the problem of high non-revenue water (NRW). This is one of the main causes of water shortage. In 2016, the NRW ratio was at 35.2 per cent. Perlis recorded the highest at 60.7 per cent, while the other states that recorded more than 40 per cent were Sabah (52 per cent), Kelantan (49.4 per cent), Pahang (47.9 per cent) and Kedah (46.7 per cent).

The rates were extremely high compared to Japan (three per cent) or Singapore (five per cent). Mostly, the loss of water occur as a result of pipe leakage and water theft. Household and commercial water users can and should play an active role by reporting the problem to the authorities. Problems such pipe leakage or burst pipe could be resolved sooner if we reported the cases. But, are consumers aware of their roles? Do they make a report immediately, or are they just apathetic?

Consumers have a direct impact on water problems. For example, excessive water contributes to wastage.

Based on the Malaysia Water Industry Guide (2015), the average water consumption per person (water consumption per capita) is 211 litres per day in 2014.

Water consumption varies by state — the highest water consumption of 293 litres per capita per day is Penang and the lowest is Sabah (114 litres per capita per day). This is above the World Health Organisation recommended rate of 165 litres per capita per day.

Water consumption among Malaysians is indeed high. Why is this? Are we not aware of our abundant water resources that we do not appreciate what we have? Is the problem related to the low price of water? Yes, the price of water in Malaysia is among the lowest in the world.

Perhaps, that is why Malaysians take it for granted because they do not feel the pinch.

Our water resources are also threatened by pollution, which affect the quality and quantity of the water. If this condition is left unattended, the state of water resources cannot be maintained or sustained.

We have to protect our water resources and water-related ecosystems such as the forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers.

Water-related problems must be addressed soon, and for the long term to ensure the water’s availability and sustainability. Failing that, we would not be able to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 target, which is to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all.

Water conservation is our duty.

In Islam, water is a valuable resource and “abusing” it is against the principles of environmental conservation. The principles can be translated into the understanding that Allah created everything in this world which includes water.

Water is vital to all forms of life; the destruction of water resources would mean the destruction of other forms of life as well. To protect the life of other creatures, water must be conserved.

By Azrina Sobian.

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Ikea completes replanting of three million rainforest trees in Luasong.

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has completed the replanting of three million rainforest trees at Luasong in east coast Sabah as part of its efforts to rehabilitate the degraded forest since 1998.

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ lecturer Jan Faulk, who has been involved since the beginning of the project with state-owned Yayasan Sabah, described it as successful as it involved a focus on rehabilitation with an eye to putting back the diversity of the rainforest.

“It is a unique rainforest rehabilitation project. Today we are seeing the wildlife returning to the once burned down forest,” he told reporters after joining Ikea of Sweden Global Wood Supply and Forestry manager Ulf Johansson in a meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Faulk said a lot of research was done by scientists from Sweden, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and also from Australia.

“It is a gift from Ikea. All over the world, they have shops selling furniture. It is only here in Sabah they are doing rehabilitation. There is no revenue back,” he said, adding that project involved hiring 150 people working round the clock for the past 20 years.

Faulk said with the main replanting exercise completed in the area, it will remain a place for research as the forest was now fully protected.

Johansson, meanwhile, said that during their meeting with Shafie they discussed the downstream timber industry development.

“We would like to see more acacia plantations in Sabah. The more plantations developed on degraded land, the more jobs and happy customers we will have and there will be less pressure on natural forest,” he said, adding that it could lead to furniture manufacturing in the state.

By Muguntan Vanar
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Initiatives for a greener environment

Friday, November 16th, 2018
Eco Saviour Team members giving visitors an explanation about their project at the Toyota Eco Youth Programme closing ceremony.

EVERY Wednesday evening, Baling residents in Kedah head out for a meal, buy groceries or spend time with friends and family at Jerai night market which operates from 4pm to 8.30pm.

After the many stalls close, debris such as plastic bottles, wrappers and food scraps are strewn on the ground. Days pass before garbage trucks pick up the trash.

This dismal state of affairs prompted SMK Baling students to educate the community about environmental awareness as part of the Toyota Eco Youth Programme.

The students, who called themselves Baling Eco Saviour Team, emerged as the winner of the Toyota Eco Youth Programme, defeating 10 other participating schools.

SMK Baling students wins First Prize in the Toyota Eco Youth Programme.

Themed Waste Management this year, the initiative was first launched in 2001 as an environmental competition among eight schools in the Klang Valley. This year, 11 schools nationwide took part in the programme.

Initially, the programme participants had to find solutions to environmental problems within the school. In 2011, the programme was extended to include the community. Students not only had to engage the community with their project but also rope in relevant parties such as non-government organisations, local authorities and academicians.

Earlier this year, participating students and teachers attended a course on the Toyota 8-Step Problem-Solving Methodology ̶ an approach practised by UMW Toyota Motor employees to solve any problems including those involving the environment.

Baling Eco Saviour Team coordinator Ramzi Rahim, who won the Toyota Eco Youth Programme best teacher award, said: “Only six students attended the course. Upon their return, they conducted in-house training for the other participants to learn the methodology.”

Team leader Nur Batriesya Arizan said: “We were on our way home from a school workshop and came across the aftermath of the night market strewn with garbage. That was how the idea for the project came about.

“It was an eyesore. Dumpsters were not available to dispose of the rubbish .

The vendors and visitors of the night market appeared like they have no sense of responsibility.”

The students were determined to tackle the waste management problem at Jerai night market after many complaints from the residents.

The biggest hurdle to the success of the project was getting the vendors to cooperate with the team.

“We distributed plastic bags to all the vendors in our first attempt at managing waste. Some were reluctant to cooperate and even threw the plastic bags away. That was a really heartbreaking moment for us.

“However, we did not give up easily. We continued supplying plastic bags in the hope that the vendors would use them,” added Nur Batriesya.

Team member and group presenter Puteri Nurul Syarafana Megat Badlishah said: “Initially, nobody took us seriously since we were only secondary school students. It was hard to get the vendors to support us at the beginning.”

Nur Batriesya added: “After two weeks, we managed to change their mindset and they started using their own plastic bags.”

Gaining support from the teachers, residents and night market vendors, the team implemented measures including providing dumpsters and running programmes such as Gotong Royong Perdana, and the 3R and Our Waste, Our Responsibilities campaigns. By the end of the project, the team had successfully reduced waste at Jerai night market by 70 per cent.

The students after the Gotong Royong Perdana.

Ramzi added: “I am glad to see that the dumpsters are fully utilised. Due to environmental awareness, the night market is now well-taken care of.”

There are plans for an environmental club in order to sustain this project.

“Once a month, club members will visit Jerai night market to make sure it is clean,” added Nur Batriesya.

Puteri Nurul Syarafana is proud of the impact of the project.

“Initially there were 83 vendors at the night market but the number has increased to 98 after the project. We hope that other night markets will be benchmarked against Jerai night market,” she added.

To mark the completion of the project, SMK Baling, Baling District Council, SWCorp and Gabungan (30) Ent signed a memorandum of understanding to ensure its sustainability and a greener environment.

Rozainum Ahmad, director of co-curriculum and art at the Education Ministry, attended the prize-giving ceremony of the programme.

“We are pleased to see rising standards and creativity of the students over the years. From simpler projects such as disposal of used cooking oil and recycling and energy-saving initiatives, we now see more advanced and creative projects that meet the waste management theme this year,” said Rozainum

Eco Saviour Team members giving visitors an explanation about their project at the Toyota Eco Youth Programme closing ceremony.

Asia’s largest zoo croc injured by stone-throwing Chinese tourists

Saturday, November 10th, 2018
A group of overexcited Chinese tourists threw stones – as well as a 17cm-diameter rock – at Asia’s largest crocodile in captivity on Monday, injuring the reptile. – NSTP FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of overexcited Chinese tourists threw stones – as well as a 17cm-diameter rock – at Asia’s largest crocodile in captivity on Monday, injuring the reptile.

The tourists – a family of laughing adults and children – reportedly wanted to make the 1,250kg African crocodile move, as they were initially sceptical that it was real. When it reacted, they were thrilled and began taking pictures, and possibly videos.

According to the South China Morning Post, the family persisted in throwing projectiles at the 5.8-metre animal despite objections from fellow tourists and visitors at the Xiamen Central Africa Zoo in Fujian province on Nov 5.

But when the 37-year-old male crocodile named Xiao He began oozing blood from three cuts it incurred from the largest rock thrown at it, the tourists fled.

The zoo’s manager was immediately notified, and staff rushed to treat the crocodile using special medicine shipped in from Taiwan, the South China Morning Post reported.

Since news of the incident broke, social media users have been scathing over the tourists’ cruelty, as well as the example the adult members of the group had set for the children


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Green banking initiative to ease global warming

Sunday, November 4th, 2018
Rapid urbanisation and industrial growth have contributed to the increase in air pollution. – NSTP FILE PIC

EARTH is currently facing a host of environmental concerns. These problems arise from climate change, global warming and pollution — all of which have a significant impact on biodiversity, forestry, agriculture, water resources, and human health.

These environmental issues are also global; environmentalists, nature lovers, and the general public agree that we need to put a stop to such problems which are mainly man-made.

We need an eco-friendly policy to help us deal with such adverse effects which put pressure on industries and services.

Green initiatives are seriously needed to promote sustainable development and environmental protection.

In Malaysia, air and water pollution are expected to become more challenging as a result of rapid economic growth over the past two decades.

Rapid urbanisation and industrial growth have contributed to the increase in air pollution. The sources of air pollution are from the transportation and industrial sectors through the burning of fossil fuels.

The growing number of vehicles remains the main cause of the air quality deterioration, particularly in cities.

Therefore, the quality of air and water directly affects the socio-economic condition of the society.

Banks, as financial institutions can play a role in promoting green initiatives and sustainable economic growth through “green banking” practices.

The concept is a strategic approach to healthier marketing demands in modern business areas.

Green banking is any form of banking that benefits the environment. According to the Indian Banks Association (IBA, 2014): “Green Bank is like a normal bank, which considers all the social and environmental/ecological factors with an aim to protect the environment and conserve natural resources”.

It is also known as the “ethical” or “sustainable” bank. Its purpose is to perform “banking activities but with an additional plan towards taking care of earth’s ecology, environment, and natural resources including biodiversity”.

Green banking is gaining traction — it is making technological and operational improvements by changing clients’ habits in banking. Paperless banking, for example, reduces cost, and helps in environmental sustainability — it reduces the use of paper, power and energy.

By Dr. Saunah Zainon.

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SMK Sultan Sulaiman goes green with bucidas

Sunday, November 4th, 2018
V. Mohan Raj (standing, with tie) with some Sixth Formers of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Sulaiman after planting a bucida tree at their school’s premises in Jalan Sultan Mahmud, Batu Burok in Kuala Terengganu. – NSTP

KUALA TERENGGANU: Plants are lifesavers for humans and help boost the ecological system.

Hence, 315 Sixth Formers and 20 teachers from the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Sulaiman in Jalan Sultan Mahmud, Batu Burok dug deep into their pockets to purchase 41 bucida molineti trees from a local nursery.

They then planted the young trees around the school compound to not only beautify the landscape but help ‘green’ their surrounding.

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Sulaiman principal Wan Rohana Wan Mansor (squatting) with some of her teachers after she donated the first bucida tree at the school’s premises in Jalan Sultan Mahmud, Batu Burok in Kuala Terengganu. – NSTP

The school’s ‘Go Green Sixth Formers’ project teacher-advisor V. Mohan Raj said that two types of bucida were purchased – the standard green tree at RM10 each and the batik-trunk version at RM25 each.

“This is part of our go-green effort to keep the school’s surrounding as a healthy place to study and work.

“At the same time, we want to instil an environmental awareness and eco-friendly attitude towards nature, for all.

e decided on purchasing and planting bucida trees as they are not only eye-catching and beautiful but can withstand hot weather and are easy to maintain and grow,” said Mohan Raj, who has taught at the co-educational school for 18 years.

And school principal Wan Rohana Wan Mansor set a fine example by being the first to donate a tree, followed by the other teachers.

“We hope to plant more trees around our school and hope other schools will follow suit in our effort to protect the environment,” said Mohan Raj, who is also an active member of the Darul Iman Scooter Club.

The club members travel state-wide and other parts of the country to assist old folks and orphans with financial aid.

The bucida molineti is native to the Bahamas and is also found in great numbers in Cuba, South Florida in the United States and the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

By Adrian David .

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