Need to understand the importance of wetlands

Kota Kinabalu: Education and awareness campaigns are the key towards helping the public understand the importance of wetlands, says Sabah Environment Department Director Tunku Khalkausar Tunku Fatimah.

“I believe that through education and public awareness campaigns, the message of the impedance of conserving the environment will reach the public. This event is an ideal way to create awareness and enable our younger generation to be more environmentally conscientious and to become stewards of the environment.

“I note with great pleasure that the theme for this year’s event is ‘Wetlands for a sustainable urban future’, which highlights the need for effective conservation of urban wetlands to facilitate an urbanisation that is sustainable and that makes cities liveable.”

She said this when launching the World Wetlands Day 2018 celebration at SWCS Likas, here, Saturday.

Khalkausar said this year’s theme was indeed very apt because Kota Kinabalu Wetland, located within 10km from the city centre, is the first urban Ramsar site (mangrove type) in Malaysia.

She said the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society (SWCS) also deserved to be warmly congratulated for their admirable efforts at raising the bar, in terms of creating awareness and appreciation of wetlands, adding that their determination has also encouraged the Ministry to continuously support SWCS in many ways.

“Unquestionably, wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Many wetlands have been significantly destroyed in order to make way for development. As the demand for land increases, there is a tendency to encroach wetlands and convert them into dumping grounds, filling them up in order to build infrastructure on them, draining or burning them to turn them into plantations and many more.

“The people have been asked to understand the importance of wetlands in the ecosystem as there are still many unable to understand how it contributes to the ecosystem circle. Urban wetlands make cities liveable in many important ways.”

She said wetlands also reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, provide urban green spaces and as a source of livelihoods.

“However, these benefits are not widely known and we need to educate people of all ages to understand how wetlands play an important part in our lives,” she added.

Meanwhile, SWCS President Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa said as the first NGO that manages a Ramsar site in Malaysia, they have been working diligently on conservation initiatives for more than a decade.

“In the performance of these functions, I can truly say that these years have been very challenging for us.

Conservation of the natural ecosystem in the urban area can be significantly different from conservation activities in the remote area due to the different set of challenges and opportunities.

“We (SWCS) support the conservation of wetlands that goes hand in hand with the wise use of wetlands, without being subjected to issues of over-harvesting and over-stressing our wetlands resources.

“It is sad when the level of people’s awareness on the importance of wetlands is still low and it is something that needs to be made right. Wetlands are the heart of an ecosystem and if the heart no longer functions, then the ecosystem will be affected and many species will be affected, including humans.”

Zainie said he was very pleased with the attendance of students from more than eight secondary schools, SM Maktab Sabah, SM ST John Tuaran and SM All Saints, to name a few.

“I am delighted to note that we have received more than 10 submissions from schools to participate in the Model Wetland Exhibition Competition and I heard from the judges that we have a hard time choosing the winners.

“All of the model wetlands were truly great and the presentations of each group were indisputably remarkable.

We are hoping that the initiatives undertaken during World Wetlands Day can greatly benefit the students and enable our younger generation to fully understand the importance of wetlands in the ecosystems.

by Neil Chan.

Read more @

Comments are closed.