Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Wildlife belongs to the wild, not homes

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

SEVERAL recent incidents highlighted a disturbing trend of individuals keeping wildlife as pets. The first incident covered in the media was about a sun bear kept in a private residence without a permit.

Within the same week, an endangered Brahminy kite was found in a cage in a private residence, where the protected bird had been illegally held captive for over a year. To the disappointment of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), the official custodian of our nation’s wildlife, Perhilitan, did not act on a resident’s complaint filed four times about the caged bird.

These cases are not uncommon.

People are motivated to own an exotic pet by a variety of psychological factors. These include prestige or the desire to be different, according to Dr Michael Gumert, a psychology professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Obtaining exotic animals is easy and rarely results in penalties. The animals are removed from their habitat in the wild and kept in substandard conditions without proper care, and die or are abandoned. Selling protected wildlife in pet shops or on the Internet is one of the largest sources of criminal earnings, following arms smuggling and drug trafficking. Popular animals sought after are chinchillas, sugar gliders, iguanas, tortoises and turtles, various primates, iguanas and snakes.

SAM’s growing list of concerns about exotic wildlife include:

l The well-known risk of disease transmission to humans.

l Conservation problems in the native countries due to demand of endangered species that contributes to the threat of extinction.

l The ecological effects from released or escaped exotic animals can be serious for local wildlife.

l Lack of eductation among the public.

l Poor regulation of the trade.

SAM strongly opposes the keeping of exotic wildlife as pets and believes that all commercial trafficking in these animals should be prohibited; all pet shops in the country should be monitored. SAM is also calling for a ban on the sale of exotic animals in pet shops. SAM welcomes news of the proposed legislation to ban online advertisement of sales of endangered animals in the amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. High priority should be given to preventing this animal abuse and ensuring that species do not suffer at the hands of their captors. However, despite measures taken, the trade in captive wildlife will likely continue until people realise that wild animals are not something that can be confined or owned. Until then, the laws can help prevent these abuses and, hopefully, foster understanding that animals exist for their own sake, not merely to be possessed as “pets”.

By: Meenakshi Raman.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/read/3140/wildlife-belongs-to-the-wild-not-homes/

Our rivers are an embarrassment

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
Mounds of rubbish trapped in Sungai Gombak in Kuala Lumpur. FILE PIC

RECENTLY, I went to Melaka for a short vacation.

While planning our schedule, my friend said, “Let’s only have a walk by the river at night so that we would not see the dirty river filled with rubbish”.

True enough, the river was murky but we were enjoying the night breeze along the river.

We could see plastic bottles and other rubbish floating in some parts of the river.

The view was worse during the day as the river looked greenish-brown with more rubbish spotted.

Since it is a popular tourist area, I believe the situation is under control.

But I couldn’t help wondering how Sungai Kim Kim in Johor looked like.

News reports on river pollution have appeared almost every month.

The most severe case is in Pasir Gudang, Johor, where around 1,000 people were affected.

River pollution has also been reported in Melaka and Perak.

Recently, the water treatment plant in Selangor was closed for the second time in three days due to river pollution.

It is sad that river pollution is a common issue in Malaysia. To better protect our rivers, we have to understand their importance.

A report by the Asean Integrated Water Resources Management stated that 98 per cent of the potable water supply comes from rivers and dams.

A polluted river does not only affect the residents nearby but also our water supply.

The closure of water treatment plants in Selangor is the best example of its consequences.

With the issue becoming more serious, a comprehensive plan is needed.

Enforcement should be the key. Haul the polluter to court to deter others.

As the proverb goes, “prevention is better than cure”.

Better surveillance is needed to tackle the situation.

One reason for the frequent news of river pollution is that more people are aware of environmental degradation.

This is important as public pressure will keep authorities on their toes.

As my friends and I strolled along Sungai Melaka, we picked up rubbish on the ground.

It is a simple action but we were satisfied knowing that we have played a part in improving the environment. Together, we can protect our rivers, a vital resource of our lives.

By LIEW YIT WEY

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/07/508334/our-rivers-are-embarrassment

Mitigating environmental threats

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
The authorities must declare the current issue in Pasir Gudang, Johor as a real threat to the people, their health, livelihoods and the local economy. -NSTP/Zain Ahmed

THE air and water pollution in Pasir Gudang, Johor and a similar earlier case in Sungai Kim Kim within the same district are examples of severe environmental issues in Malaysia.

They pose a threat to the lives of a section of Pasir Gudang’s residents, disrupted their daily routine, affected the economy of its low-income groups and caused the spending of a large amount in unbudgeted public funds.

A report on March 14, 2019 stated that the pollution at Sungai Kim Kim caused 506 individuals to be treated for health complications, of which nine were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in a hospital and 111 schools in Pasir Gudang were temporarily closed.

A recent report quoted a statement by the Johor Fishermen’s Association alleged that the incidents “had affected prices” of marine catch by its members. All these reveal the severity of the environmental issues in Pasir Gudang.

Therefore, it must be classified as an environmental security threat to enable the federal and state governments to mitigate it through urgent, effective and holistic approaches.

According to Barry Buzan in People, States & Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (1991), environmental security “concerns the maintenance of the local and the planetary biosphere as the essential support system on which all other human enterprises depend”.

Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde stated in Security: A New Framework For Analysis(1998) that to securitise an issue is to present it “as an existential threat, requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of public political procedure”.

A study on Securitization and Security Management in Malaysia During the Mahathir Era (1981-2003) by Ruhanie Ahmad (2018) said that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had securitised a severe haze, originating from Indonesia in 1997, as an environmental threat to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.

This move enabled Malaysia-pioneered inter-state strategies to prevent future recurrence of this environmental threat. It also led to the formation of several Asean-based anti-haze mechanisms.

Securitising the issue in Pasir Gudang, therefore, means that authorities have to declare the current issue as a real threat to our people, their health, livelihood and the economy.

Through this act, both governments are empowered to solve the issue by applying extraordinary strategies beyond the purview of the existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

Additionally, it is unnecessary for them to declare an emergency situation in Pasir Gudang because it restricts the residents from conducting their normal daily routines.

This is because non-traditional security threats in Pasir Gudang only involves non-state actor(s).

It is unlike the intrusion of the “Kiram Army” into Sabah in 2012, which was a traditional security threat involving an armed foreign group.

The federal and state governments, therefore, should securitise the issue in Pasir Gudang based on the following reasons.

ONE, Dr Mahathir had said on June 25, 2019 that this issue resulted from “some industries that are not too concerned on security”;

TWO, it had threatened the health of many schoolchildren and residents; and,

THREE, it had affected the economy of fishermen in the district.

Following this securitisation, the federal government must form an Environmental Security Task Force to mitigate, minimise, eradicate and prevent future emergence or recurrence of environmental threats throughout the country.

This task force must apply “the whole-of-government” concept in its format, functions and strategy. Its membership must be derived from Malaysia’s various planning, licensing and enforcement authorities.

To prevent possible corruption or abuse of power in managing environmental security threats, this task force must also include representatives from the country’s agencies for intelligence gathering, combating abuse of power and corruption, and agencies for the maintenance of non-traditional security.

This is because repeated environmental threats from air and water pollution in Pasir Gudang could have originated from total disregard of the environmental laws by certain industries.

This also could emerge from poor decision making in approving and licensing the operations of industries with environmental hazards; or from abuse of power by enforcement agencies monitoring the environmental law compliancy by these industries.

Prevention and eradication of environmental threats in Malaysia must involve strategies to track their root causes; determining the effectiveness of the existing laws; and ascertaining the integrity of our planning, licensing and enforcement agencies.

The other primary strategies concern its holistic mitigation activities. These activities must be carried out through an inter-agency SOP managed by the task force. To ensure the effectiveness of the above prevention and mitigation programmes, an environmental security task force with similar format, functions and membership must be formed at the state and district levels throughout Malaysia.

By Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/07/500725/mitigating-environmental-threats

Time to end single-use plastics altogether

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
Cause for concern: According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that ‘8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches’.

Cause for concern: According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that ‘8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches’.

COME July 1, all eateries in Selangor will be banned from using plastic straws.

The state government’s aim is to eventually eliminate single-use plas­­tics altogether, followed by a nationwide ban on plastic straws by next year.

As we all know too well now, the plastic pollution problem in Malay­sia and worldwide has worsened and taken its toll on our environment.

In August 2017, The Star reported that if one straw is used per person each day in Malaysia, 31 million plastic straws are used daily nationwide.

But while announcing the ban, Selangor Environment, Green Tech­­no­logy, Sci­ence and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said the eateries could still provide plastic straws to customers if they requested it, which is counter-­intuitive.

This is where we, the consumers, need to really change our mindset and look at this from a much bigger perspective and simple economics.

If the demand for plastic straws can be reduced, it can possibly lead to lower production of these non-­biodegradable utensils.

For a start, places like hospitals also need to also look into using these “alternative” straws for pa­tients, especially children and elderly.

On our part, we can stop using plastic straws and consider carrying stainless steel straws for dining out and takeaways.

According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that “8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches”.

A single non-biodegradable plastic straw takes hundreds of years to break down into small pieces, known as microplastics.

But straws are only 0.025% of the global pollution crisis.

It has been reported that eight million tonnes of plastic flow into the ocean every year.

All of us saw the magnitude of the plastic pollution problem when a dead whale was found off Davao Gulf in the Philippines earlier this year with almost 40kg of plastic in its stomach.

According to National Geographic, the whale was not alone.

The website also stated that more marine life has been found dead with their bellies stuffed with plastic, and based on Unesco statistics 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year.

In some cases like that of the whale, the plastic build-up trapped in the stomach starves the animal as it blocks food from travelling from the stomach to the intestine.

The time has come for us to really put into action our habits to reduce pollution for our marine eco-system as well as our current livelihood and that of our future generations.

It all boils down to a change in our daily practices and everyone making a conscious effort to reduce not only the use of plastic straws but also all single-use plastics.

When buying cooked food outside, we can bring our own tiffin carriers or reusable containers instead of using the plastic takeaway packaging at hawker stalls.

As for purchases of raw food such as meat and seafood, we can bring our own freezer re-sealable storage bags. For eggs, bring our own reusable egg cartons.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/the-star-says/2019/06/23/time-to-end-singleuse-plastics-altogether/#5vfGp21h7GOf8upf.99

Sabah’s mangroves in danger: WWF

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Mangroves are important to Sabah but undervalued and in danger, said Head of Conservation Sabah WWF M’sia Dr Robecca Jumin.

“Sabah has the largest area of mangroves of any state in Malaysia, with over 232,000 hectares, mainly along Sabah’s east and southeast coast. Most are protected as Class V Mangrove Forest Reserves, or as Class 1 Protected or Class VI Virgin Jungle Forest Reserves.

“However some critical areas, for example on Sabah’s west coast, remain unprotected.

“While Sabah should be proud to host two wetlands recognized as being of global importance and designated as Ramsar sites – the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands, and Kota Kinabalu Wetland right here in the capital, other parts of Sabah’s mangrove areas are decreasing or being degraded”, Dr Jumin said, in conjunction with World Ocean Day.

WWF Malaysia is one of nine organisations making up Coalition 3H, along with Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Borneo Futures, Danau Girang Field Centre, Forever Sabah, Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia (Joas), Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), Pacos Trust and Seratu Aatai),

Although to the untrained eye all mangroves may look the same, there are at least 22 species of mangrove tree in Sabah, including those known locally as ’bakau kurap’, ‘bakau minyak’ and ‘api-api putih’, all of which have slightly differing characteristics.

But all are extraordinary trees that live in soft mud at the interface between land and sea. They have to deal with saltwater inundations, water salinity that is highly variable, poor soil aeration and unstable soils as well as strong waves, tide and wind action.

To do this mangroves have developed special features to survive. These include an amazing variety of root systems to gain stability in the soft mud. The roots also act as supplementary respiratory organs allowing them to breathe underwater in the oxygen-depleted mud.

While they can be tough, mangroves are also dependent on freshwater. They die when deprived of freshwater such as when road development reduces flow of water from rivers.

The rich habitat that mangroves provide is home to birds, crabs, prawns, mudskippers and many other types of fish, as well as Sabah’s famed fireflies, endangered proboscis monkeys and the increasingly rare silver leaf monkey, among many other species that are critical components of Sabah’s natural heritage.

Mangrove ecosystems provide humans with many services. By filtering out sediments, mangroves protect fragile coral reefs and vulnerable sea grass meadows from being smothered in sediment. In coral reefs that are near to healthy mangroves, fish are found to be more abundant, as the young fish grow and develop in the safety of the mangrove roots.

Fish as well as crabs and prawns are an essential source of food for thousands and thousands of coastal communities around the world. For Sabah, as we all know, fish is an important economic resource for the state.

Mangroves also act as a ‘bio-shield’, by stabilizing shorelines and reducing the effect of storms. The mass of trees rooted on the coast blunts the force of destructive waves and storm surges, finally dissipating the energy away from the land. As such where mangroves have been removed, or the sea has been reclaimed, the coastlines are prone to storm surges and coastal erosion. For this reason, the Sabah Shoreline Management Plan (2005) states that Class V Mangrove Forest Reserves should be retained while avoiding the development of hotels, condominiums and roads in mangrove forests.

This natural coastal protection and stabilization from mangrove forests is going to become more and more important as sea levels rise and more severe storms hit Sabah. Manmade substitutes to mangroves such as reinforced concrete embankments as a measure of erosion control would be extremely costly.

Dr Jumin stressed “For all these reasons we are heartened by State Minister Junz Wong’s statement in October, 2018 that he will protect mangroves by no longer giving approval for mangrove clearance to develop shrimp farms, and giving zero tolerance to any activities leading to the destruction of mangroves”.

Recent research has shown that mangroves (as well as the often overlooked sea grass meadows) store a surprisingly high amount of carbon, some of which remains sequestered for thousands of years in the sediment trapped by the mangrove root system. Based on this, the conversion of a mangrove forest to a shrimp pond, for example, changes the mangrove root system as a carbon sink to a carbon source, liberating the accumulated carbon back into the atmosphere.

“Sabah’s mangroves need to be recognised as carbon storage assets” said Dr Benoit Goossens of Danau Girang Field Centre and Cardiff University. “They are one of the earth’s most efficient ecosystems to sequester atmospheric carbon. At a time when the latest UN reports tell us we have a maximum of 10 -12 years left to prevent catastrophic climate change and extinction crises, why are we even thinking of destroying such valuable natural carbon sinks and hotspots for coastal and marine diversity?”.

Despite their immense value, mangroves are in constant danger of being damaged and disrupted by infrastructure like roads, hotels and housing developments, shrimp farms and fish farms, and to a lesser extent from being cut for firewood, charcoal and posts. Pollution, including oil spills and sediment, and rubbish like plastic garbage, are also major threats.

And the threat is not only from clearance: disruption of river and tidal flows can destroy mangroves and the fisheries and life that they support.

As Cynthia Ong, Chief Executive Facilitator of Leap, noted “Fishermen know mangroves are essential for marine life. Tour operators know they are essential for tourism products like proboscis monkeys and fireflies. Marine scientists know they are essential for maintaining healthy coral reefs and helping to reduce greenhouse gases. But when it comes to development it seems many still think they can be destroyed at will”.

Coalition 3H recommends that any tourism and associated roads planned along Sabah’s coast should plan for future effects of climate change and, guided by the precautionary principle, preserve the natural coastal defense system that mangroves provide, not to mention maintain the very habitats that the tourism attractions, such as endangered proboscis monkeys, need to survive. “The Sabah Proboscis Monkey Action Plan (2019-2028) explicitly states the halting of loss and degradation of habitat as one of its priority actions to protect this iconic species” pointed out Dr Goossens.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/136682/sabah-s-mangroves-in-danger-wwf/

Flora and fauna going extinct can be averted by EcoGeneration

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

In “Sabah’s wildlife may end up like rhino” 28/04/19, SM Mohd Idris , President Sahabat Alam Malaysia mentioned that “at least one-fifth of mammals found in Malaysia is facing extinction”. There is another international report to support a petition to save the animals saying that “we’ve wiped out nearly two-thirds of animal populations in just the last 50 years!”

So both are damn serious matters and I believe both statements refer to the animals in the wild.

I wonder how they know and they are more concerned with the animals in wild than our friendly animals like dogs in our homes.

I am very concerned that dogs are really going extinct and people are complacent or indifferent about it. Such extinction is already in the pipeline by design of the authorities and groups of people supporting that motive. How to stop this trend?

Those animals in the wild fall into the greedy hands of people who are more interested to destroy the natural habitat of the wild animals to make money for themselves in mono crops of oil palm and lesser into softwood.

As the greedy planters proceed to develop the plantations, many other greedy people also make money killing wild animals for food and global trafficking in such medicinal products. So is there any solution to prevent extinction of dogs and wild animals?

I think the message to everyone is that our dying earth for all known reasons is a certainty when our flora and fauna are near depleted to keep our earthly environment at a sustainable position. Are we so clever to outdo God with the once majestic earth at the beginning? Did God make a mistake to give us the Garden Eden with all the flora and fauna? Are we not about to go to eternity known and unknown to us sooner than later?

Many of us maybe perishing with the fast rising temperature as compared with the fairly cool environment in my childhood days in Labuan just before Malaysia.

One of our last few rhino Gelugob died in Lok Kawi zoo in January 2014 could have died due to heat wave in the environment in the zoo where the mud pond had little shade cover so unlike in natural cool habitat.

One of the main reasons for our diminishing dogs in our homes is our human attitude to care for them.

Don’t you see that birds of all sizes and pigeons are coming to residential areas for food when food in the jungles and forests have been depleted with poor quality and quantity of greenery.

So do we still have time to put our effort together to stop the declining flora and fauna which need each other when human beings need them most for our own existence? That is the imperative message for all.

For Borneo especially Sabah, we cannot rely on Heart of Borneo (HoB) alone for a sustained environment despite 11 years of global effort. Such effort must be tripled or many times when Sarawak and Kalimantan must increase its areas for HoB by several fold.

Apart from that, we need massive funds to make the desired impact in a range of enhanced activities to tackle the rundown Borneo first and reach out to other regions and then the ends of the earth.

For the funding intention we need to set up a private Flora and Fauna Foundation with seed money of USD$10m as part of the project for NGOs and individuals known as #EcoGeneration for social, charity and revenue generating industries in the green sectors.

#EcoGeneration after started would be a sustainable coalition of ecologists, consumers and environmentalists for a massive match to the global gigantic task to save the dying earth to save ourselves and we start this pressing project in Sabah to mitigate the crisis already at a late stage.

by Joshua Y C Kong
.Read more @
http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/read/2964/flora-and-fauna-going-extinct-can-be-averted-by-ecogeneration/

Plastic waste is at disposal facility, not dumped indiscriminately

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019
The plastic waste allegedly found near a wasteland in Ipoh, Perak, as reported by BBC, is in fact sitting on a disposal facility. (NSTP/ABDULLAH YUSOF)

PORT KLANG: The plastic waste allegedly found near a wasteland in Ipoh, Perak, as reported by BBC, is in fact sitting on a disposal facility.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the claims by the British news portal was investigated after a report surfaced that TV presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had discovered a 20-ft high mound of plastic waste deep in the jungle of Perak.

“The waste found in Perak originated from Kuala Langat (Selangor) as landowners who rented out their plots have to clear their properties off the illegal waste.

“We shut down the illegal plastic recycling factories and the waste was sent to the disposal facility to be disposed, at the expense of the landowners.

“Yes, the report is right. The waste is from United Kingdom but it is at a disposal facility. Landowners are doing so as their plots will be confiscated by the state government under the National Land Code if they do not clear the land and revert it to its original status,” she said today in a press conference at Westports Malaysia.

Yeo said she was in contact with the British High Commission to discuss matters related to waste disposal.

“It is waste from the United Kingdom but it is the Malaysian government that has to ensure that it is disposed properly. I am already in touch with the High Commission to seek ways to move forward in terms of cost, machinery, capacity building and more. We will collaborate and assist each other to ensure this does not happen again,” she added.

Daily Mail Online had reported on the environmental catastrophe, describing it as “it has the fingerprints of British supermarkets and council recycling departments” all over it.

“It’s like some dystopian nightmare… a plastic planet,” Hugh who is also a celebrity chef was quoted as saying.

According to the same report, Hugh also spotted British local authority-branded recycling bags which, he said, had suggested that householders dutifully filling their green bins in the belief they were helping the environment have been lied to.

Hugh pulled out countless plastic bags and packaging from M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose.

By Dawn Chan.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/492103/plastic-waste-disposal-facility-not-dumped-indiscriminately

The first book on the deadly snake – The King Cobra

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Cobra

The king cobra, the longest venomous snake in the world, is found in Borneo and widely distributed across much of Asia. Its name Ophiophagus is indicative of its cannibalistic behaviour; its diet is comprised exclusively of snakes, including its own kind.

The enormous lengths that the king cobra can reach, combined with an intimidating threat display and possession of highly neurotoxic venom, have led to it being greatly feared by many. It is widely considered as one of the most formidable snakes in the world!

Well-known natural history publisher Datuk C.L. Chan (left) has announced the release of a new book entitled King Cobra: Natural History and Captive Management by Tom Charlton (right), a herpetologist and wildlife photographer based in the United Kingdom.

The author’s interest lies predominantly with the herpetofauna of Southeast Asia, in particular its snakes, having made numerous trips out to this region since his first visit to Borneo in 2004.

Back home in England, he works with several expedition and wilderness medicine training providers across the UK to develop and present specialist lectures on awareness of venomous snakes. He has recently begun working in snake control and management in Central Province, Papua New Guinea.

This book is the first account ever written about this deadly serpent. It is profusely illustrated with excellent photographs, details the natural history of the king cobra, looking closely at all aspects of its life including distribution, diet, reproduction and venom, as well as its relationship with humans and conservation, according to Chan.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/31190

Dealing with marine plastic pollution

Thursday, April 25th, 2019
Microplastics are less than five millimetres in size.

Microplastics are small fragments of plastic that pollute the environment.

Defined as less than five millimetres in size and derived from plastic materials,they enter natural ecosystems as

run offs of cleaning and personal care products or the result of weathering and photo-degradation as well as various mechanical forces of products like fishing nets, household items and other discarded plastic items.

According to Dr Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim, senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s School of Marine and Environmental Sciences,

microplastics have a high surface to volume ratio and hydrophobic characteristic which make them an excellent vector in transporting various types of

environmental chemicals into the marine food web.

“The chemicals absorbed on the microplastics have carcinogenic and mutagenic effects on organisms. As the size of microplastics is very small, it

can easily be ingested bymarine organisms, enter the food chain through predation, and eventually reach the human bodies,” he said.

Aquatic ecosystems in Malaysia are also part of this emerging global issue, Yusof highlighted.

“Scientific knowledge on microplastics distribution and its concentration in our environment is vital as part of the national effort to develop effective

management and mitigation measures,” he said.

For this purpose, in 2017 a group of scientists from UMT established the Microplastics Research Interest Group (MRIG) consisting of experts from

various field of studies like marine biology, environmental chemistry, physical chemistry, chemometrics, metagenomics, ocean dynamics,

analytical chemistry, entomology, and food microbiology.

The MRIG focuses on quantitation, characterisation and method development for microplastics (MPs) analysis and marine debris in order to identify the path and fate as well as to increase the understanding of this emerging pollutants in the food web.

Yusof, who heads MRIG, said the research on microplastics in UMT actually started from 2014 focusing on occurrence of microplastics in marine

organisms such as polychaete (marine worms), bivalves, sea cucumber, and commercial fishes among others.

The research later expanded to water, sediment and airborne contamination.

Using the baseline data, the MRIG group is now furthering its study on the impact of microplastics to human health.

“The study has been conducted specifically in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. However, the expansion of the research area will be widened to

compare the pristine, moderate and polluted areas in Malaysia depending on fund availability.

The data on this research will be beneficial to the government, industry and public,” said Yusof.

On top of the research, the group is also working on the solution to microplastics pollution such as the development of bio plastics derived fromrenewable

biomass sources as well as the development of biomaterials that can be used for microplastics clean up.

“In recent years, marine plastic pollution has been attracting increase attention from researchers, policy makers, and the public.

In the year 2018, Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) has introduced Malaysia’s Roadmap towards Zero Single Use Plastics 2018-2030. The vision of this road map is to promote Malaysia’s sustainable development, balancing the economic growth and environmental protection, simultaneously. The use of single-use plastic will be abolished, and replaced with alternative eco-friendly products such as bioplastics and reusable straws,” Yusof elaborated.

He said UMT’s development of biodegradable polymer is still at its initial stage.

“However, we can foresee the commercial potential of the findings. In this study, we explore the use of palm oil and other edible oils in collaboration with our foreign counterpart.

“The development of biomaterials for microplastics removal has also been conducted in our lab.

We utilize the potential of using polysaccharides as a precursor or production of biomaterials.

The findings of this study is planned to be published by end of this year,” he said.

The MRIG team is also actively sharing their knowledge and recent findings on microplastic pollution with the private and public sectors through seminars and conferences.

It has also embarked on corporate social responsibility programmes since 2017 targeted at school children to create awareness about their roles to protect the environment in reducing plastic pollution. Thus far it has involved more than five schools and one orphanage, with the total number of students involved numbering at more than 2,000.

“The public awareness programme has been carried out by researchers and students of MRIG, with support from the student academic clubs and professional bodies in Terengganu. We hope the campaign can inspire the younger generation and raise awareness about microplastic pollution and its danger to our future,” he said.

The MRIG group has recently received a grant through UMT’s Centre of Knowledge Transfer and Industrial Networks (PIJI), focusing on a knowledge transfer programme involving coastal area communities related to issues of global sustainability.

“Our proposal, “Small hands change the world: Raising Awareness of Plastic Pollution”, has been awarded this grant by the university for 2019.

The proposed programme is an initiative to enhance environmental health awareness, especially among primary school students. This programme

aims to educate the younger generation particularly primary school students in Kuala Nerus on the importance of protecting marine environment

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/04/482487/dealing-marine-plastic-pollution

Education on Sabah’s wildlife at historic site

Monday, April 1st, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The ruins of the former historic Welfare Building site along Jalan Haji Saman came alive with vibrant colourful paintings depicting Sabah’s wildlife.

The columns or pillars of the building – remnants of a mysterious fire in the late 1990s – were painted with 30 different endangered wildlife whether in the forest or in the sea with the aim of promoting awareness on climate change and the need to protect Sabah’s endangered wildlife.

This is the second edition of a community art project, called the Pillars of Sabah 2.0, jointly organised by a group of young art enthusiasts in collaboration with the WWF-Malaysia and supported by the State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and City Hall.

The project also received 25 different paint colours from Nippon Paint as part of their corporate social responsibility to the cause.

The newly revamped Pillars of Sabah 2.0 was officiated in conjunction with Earth Hour 2019, Saturday.

“With this comes hope that the pillars will be a platform of education for all who come to admire the art,” said Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew when officiating the event.

By: Sherell Jeffrey.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/133187/education-on-sabah-s-wildlife-at-historic-site/