Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

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
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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.

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The first book on the deadly snake – The King Cobra

Thursday, May 16th, 2019


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.

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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.

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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.

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Construction projects to be given environmental-friendly rating from December 2020.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Construction projects worth RM100mil and above will soon be given an environmental sustainability rating to encourage companies to think of designs that do less harm to the environment.

This comes following the launch of the Sustainable Infrastructure Rating Tool (Sustainable Infrastar) by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

The CIDB has also set a target of certifying 50% of new infrastructure projects as environmentally sustainable starting December 2020.

Works Minister Baru Bian said such a move is needed due to growing environmental concerns.

Sustainable Infrastar will rate an infrastructure’s design based on six core criteria including its impact to the ecology and environment, the handling of material resources and waste, energy performance, its impact on society and culture, site land use, and will also take into a building’s pre-design and pre-construction.

Projects will be ranked on a five-star rating system with five stars being the top mark.

Five projects are currently being assessed using the new tool such as a regional sewage treatment plant at Bandar Indera Mahkota in Pahang, the power generation plant in Sandakan, Sabah, the

Kahang Dam construction in Kluang, Johor, the Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway and Section 4 of the West Coast Expressway that links Banting to Taiping.

Baru said eventually, smaller projects will be encouraged to use the tool to measure their impact on the environment. However, no timeline was set.

Separately, Baru said the government will put in measures to further boost the construction industry despite the challenging economic landscape.

Baru said he is optimistic of growth judging from the number of delegates at the 19th CIDB International Construction Week (ICW 2019) as well as ongoing work on mega projects such as the Pan-

Borneo Highway and the Central Spine Road (CSR), which is also known as the Kuala Krai-Kuala Pilah Highway.

By Jo Timbuong
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NST Leader: Get to the bottom of it now

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
(File pix) No one lifted a finger despite all the reports by residents, whose lives were being threatened by ‘environmental terrorists’ in their midst. NSTP/MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN

MANY are outraged and rightly so. The disaster caused by the dumping of toxic waste into the once-brown waters of Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, has caused almost 3,000 students and residents, along with several reporters, to be admitted to hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit of Hospital Sultan Ismail.

Fortunately, no life has been lost. It was a crisis waiting to happen as the dumping of the chemical waste, believed to have originated from tyre recycling factories, has been going on since 2012, and the river is now “dead”.

All this happened right under the nose of the enforcers, including the Department of Environment (DOE), and others that were supposed to monitor the operations of factories and shut down the illegal ones.

However, nothing was done. No one lifted a finger despite all the reports by residents, whose lives were being threatened by “environmental terrorists” in their midst.

Evidently, enforcement teams in Johor had ignored the alarm bells since 2012.

The New Straits Times yesterday reported that residents had complained numerous times about the water slowly turning from brown to black, but no action was ever taken.

It is worrying that the existence of murky and polluted rivers, many of which meander through our industrial areas, seems not to have troubled our sensibilities. Only the spectre of death worries us.

With polluted rivers becoming the norm, we are not about to call for the setting up of more task forces.

The ministries responsible should reveal plans to clean up our rivers and crack down on polluters. We expect to see a series of press conferences detailing urgent measures to clean up the mess.

The high cost involved in doing so is also not an excuse for a do-nothing policy. We need to know the root causes of the things that are killing our rivers.

Our efforts in dealing with the problem have so far been a major failure. If nothing is done now, we will begin to worry about similar issues elsewhere for sure.

It is also time that those who have failed to act against the polluters are held accountable for all that is going on.

Officials cannot continue claiming ignorance, or innocence, each time something like this happens under their watch. It is unacceptable that they are not even able to detect the illegal factories, which are openly operating and polluting the environment.

Disciplinary and legal action must be taken if they are found to be negligent or corrupt.

It is also hoped this whole drama of getting to the bottom of the issue does not end in an anti-climax of the same old promises being repeated, with little action to actually solve the problem.

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Unhealthy air quality recorded in KK, Kimanis

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Sabah’s Department of Environment (DOE) has warned the public against carrying out open burning after the air pollution index (API) in two districts here reached an unhealthy level. (NSTP/MALAI ROSMAH TUAH)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s Department of Environment (DOE) has warned the public against carrying out open burning after the air pollution index (API) in two districts here reached an unhealthy level.

As of yesterday, Kota Kinabalu and Kimanis stations have recorded API of over 100.

“This (unhealthy API) was caused by bush fires in several areas due to the current hot and dry weather,” it said in a statement today.

Among the bush fires recorded were Bukit Indah Permai covering two hectares, Bukit Sepanggar (4ha), Kampung Kauluan in Tuaran (6ha), Kota Kinabalu’s Institut Kemahiran Mara (6ha) and Taman Putera Perdana (6ha).

In Kimanis, peat fires were sighted along Jalan Bongawan-Kimanis-Papar.

The DOE added that no discounts would be given to compounds issued and advised the public to cut down on outdoor activities, stop all outdoor extracurricular activities for students as well as postpone all outdoor gatherings/sports.

Since the ban on open burning was enforced in January, the department said it had issued 42 warning letters, three order notices, nine compounds and opened three investigation papers

By Wan Faizal Ismayatim.

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Chemical waste pollution in Sg Kim Kim affects livelihood of fishermen.

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

JOHOR BARU: The chemical waste pollution in Pasir Gudang, since March 7, has not only affected the health of people around the region but has led to a decline in catch and fishermen’s sales to drop.

South Johor Fishermen’s Association chairman, Azli Mohamad Aziz said 650 members of the association from several villages claimed their sales revenue had dropped by 50% over the last 10 days since the incident..

“The pollution has affected 250 fishermen from four villages around Sungai Kim Kim, namely orang asli fisherman from Telok Kabung, Kampung Perigi Aceh, Kampung Pasir Putih and Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, to whom the river was a source of income,” he said when met at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru fishermen’s market, here Saturday (March 16).

He said about 400 fishermen around had also received the backlash of the pollution, including fishermen from Tanjung Langsat, Kong Kong, Kampung Sungai Tiram and Bakar Batu, as sales slumped because people were afraid to buy their catch.

He said that normally, the sale of fishermen at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen Market was estimated at 100kg to 150kg per day with a total turnover of RM3,000 to RM4,000, but now it had dropped to 18kg to 30kg a day over the 10 days with sales between RM300 and RM600.

Over the last four days, two tonnes of fish and marine products worth RM5,000 had accumulated and had to be kept in the refrigerator in the market because of no buyers.

Regarding the pollution in Sungai Kim Kim, rich in ‘ikan kitang’, ’selangat’, ‘belanak’, ‘belukang’ and snails, Azli also said, he understood more than 40 police reports were lodged by Teluk Kabung Orang Asli fishermen since March 6, reporting that the river water had turned turbid causing fish to die and there was a stench.

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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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