Saturday, April 21, 2012

Speak About Nature Conservation

It was two days ago when I was on the jetty at Kilim Geoforest Park and had an opportunity to observe a group of kayakers paddling towards the floating platform. A support boat came in shortly and three nature guides alighted with a couple of white sugar bags or gunny sacks. 

The elderly looking guide grabbed the sacks, placed them beside a rubbish bin and started going up the cemented steps. Then his colleague went to the sacks, inspected the contents and she held up one of sacks saying, "What are we going to do with these? Are just going to leave them here?" The elder guide simply replied, "If you want, you can take them home." "No, I don't want to but we just can't leave them  here.", she said. They seemed to be "tai chi-ing" the sack back and forth. Finally all three of them took the sacks and carried up to the jetty.

What were they up to?

I followed them from a distance watching their next course of action. They walked towards a bridge that connects to the broken boardwalk at the back of the mangroves. Long green pods came out from those sacks. Each one of them took out a handful of those long pods and  started dropping them one by one. The elder guide dropped the pods as if he was throwing darts while the female guide was more careful in dropping the pods. Most of the pods managed to stay upright on the mudflat and the rest of them... err... good luck. 

After they left the jetty, I walked over to the bridge to take a look at those long pods. Those were the seedlings of Rhizophora spp., less than fifty of them and I am uncertain from which area of the mangroves that they sourced from. I didn't have my camera with me and so, no pictures were taken.
This picture was taken in December 2010 showing an area next to Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) where schools/groups did some planting here but those seedlings didn't survive. There is a signage in the middle of the mudflat indicating the previous group who did the planting.

I found out later from a local boat operator that this tour company organised a mangroves planting project for a school program. The students kayaked to the planting plot which was nearby to the Bat Caves (Gua Kelawar). Most plantings were done there but through the years, that area have a high unsuccessful growing rate. I wonder why do groups still want to plant on that area.

Those seedlings must be the remaining ones from the planting activity. I would definitely feel sorry for those seedlings if they were actually left beside the rubbish bin and thankfully they now have return to their habitat. I am not perfect myself and I do make mistakes sometimes but I felt it is disrespectful of how this elder guide of this company (Note: the name of the company is publicly withheld)  treated those seedlings immediately after the planting. Perhaps he will be a better role model for his next involvement in nature conservation with those kids.


  1. Perhaps the biggest flaw about these tree planting events is: there should be enough scientific evidence to warrant such investment of time and money on undertaking the project.

    The mere planting of trees will do no good if they are not followed up by sufficient research to indicate they are establishing well and integrating with the ecosystem of the area.

    It's really sad that all these passion and effort into planting them will go to waste. Worst still, what will participants think about conservation if they happen to revisit that area?

    1. Hi JK,
      I agree with you. Even sadder when groups make the same mistake again and again, knowing that area is not conducive for mangroves rehabilitation. Lack of proper planning and study is one thing but their eagerness to make $$$ out of such project is sickening.

      I myself have made mistakes on our voluntary planting on one spot in Kuala Melaka. After several attempts and learning the patterns of that area, I will never put a seed in there again.


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