Saving Malaysia Means Saving its Mangroves

Saving Malaysia Means Saving its Mangroves


[MUSIC PLAYING] HONG CHING GOH: What
is a mangrove forest? Mangrove are the
only forests found on the edge of the sea in
warm sub tropical and tropical environments. They can be easily recognized
by the dense tangle of [INAUDIBLE] roots that make
the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. Mangrove are a
valuable resource. They are estimated to
provide at least $1.6 billion annually in
[INAUDIBLE] services, the multiple benefits
that humankind enjoys from ecosystems. This value is in the realm of
national GDP’s such as that of the Virgin Islands. In recognition of the
significance of mangrove, the Ramsar Convention for
conservation and sustainable utilizations of mangrove
was signed on the February 2nd, 1971. February 2nd has been
declared World Wetlands Day. A unique mix of marine
and [INAUDIBLE] species live in mangrove ecosystems,
especially in Asian region. The calm, sheltered waters
among the mangroves’ roots provide breeding, feeding,
and nursery grounds for fish and anthropoids. Herons, spoonbills,
and even eagles make their nests in the upper
branches of mangrove trees. Reptiles are plenty. Mangrove play a very important
role in soil formation and shorelines protection. Their unique above
ground root structures dampen watered currents. They also reduce the
impact of strong winds and tidal wave that
accompany tropical storms. Mangrove are among the
most carbon rich forests in the Tropics, containing
an average 1023 mega grams carbon [INAUDIBLE],
at least three times that of the upper
tropical forests. Mangroves’ wood is
most commonly used as a source of fuel
for local communities, and as the primary construction
material for boats, houses, and furniture. In addition,
mangrove [INAUDIBLE] fisheries, the main
source of livelihood for many local communities. Mangrove also contain
great medicine of value including [INAUDIBLE],
bleeding and malaria, to name a few. Cannonball mangrove
fruit, for instance, is used to treat diarrhea. In many parts of the
world, mangrove also bear great cultural significance
for local communities, such as the indigenous
peoples of the Torres Strait Islands, who have used
Australia’s mangrove for more than 40,000 years. Despite its importance, the
rate of mangrove deforestation is among the highest
of any forest type. And urbanization
has been identified as a significant
threat to the survival of these coastal flagship
natural resources. Urbanization refer
to the concentrations of human population
into discrete areas. Cities, leading to the
transformations of land. It is a global phenomenon that
is intensifying especially in low and median
income countries. Today, half of the
world’s populations live within 60
kilometers of the sea, and three quarters of
all the largest cities are located on the coast. While cities foster
economic, growth, and offer the vast majority
of employment opportunities, urbanization also brings
congestion and pollution. It also escalates [INAUDIBLE]
such as displacements of native peoples
and urban poverty. The fundamental
change it causes, however, is the
transformation of nature. Globally, urban development
is the major driver of climate change, producing
half of all greenhouse gas emissions. Luckily, land in coastal
area is reclaimed for property development,
and mangrove forests are transformed into
open water fronts. Malaysia is a median
income country located in Southeast Asia. We have a total coastline
of 4,675 kilometers. In these coastal
areas, mangrove forests are found, which,
at the end of 2006, were estimated at 107,802
hectares in Peninsula Malaysia alone. Today, very few mangrove remain. Over 18% of the mangrove were
lost between 1975 and 2005, primarily due to conversions
of land for agriculture, shrimp ponds, or open development. Johor, Malaysia’s
southernmost state, is home to more than a
quarter of the total remaining mangrove in Peninsula Malaysia. Is also home to
[INAUDIBLE] areas of international importance
for conserving biodiversity. All three of these
[INAUDIBLE] are located within Iskandar Malaysia. Established in 2006,
Iskandar Malaysia is a national special,
economic region, located in southern Johor,
just across the straits from Singapore. It is modeled the Pearl River
delta economic zone of China, with the purpose to
capitalize on its existing synergies with Singapore. The region has a
land size that is three times that of Singapore,
and is administrated by the Iskandar Regional
Deferment Authority, or [INAUDIBLE]. The indigenous group
around [INAUDIBLE] once practicing a
nomadic lifestyle, have settled down along the
southern coast of Johor. They live in coastal
areas and river estuaries, and like many
other local people, are dependent on mangrove
for their livelihood. Today, mangrove conservation
in Johor is becoming critical. With fast phase
urbanization taking place in Iskandar Malaysia,
local and indigenous groups dependent on mangrove
face the truth of losing their homes
and source of livelihood. Iskandar Malaysia aims to
be a strong and sustainable metropolis of
international standing. To support this vision, three
mangrove management strategies can, and should be pursued. Strategy one. Ecotourism as a mangrove
environmental service. An ecotourism project
in Iskandar Malaysia has been launched in 2013. However, it was limited to a
single village Kompang Sona Melayu, at the Melayu River. Meanwhile, a study on tourism
potential of the [INAUDIBLE] region was conducted in 2010,
but the actual implementation has not taken place. It is promising that tourism,
with education at its core, can be ecologically and
economically beneficial to local villages. However, this strategy
and its benefits must be shared by
more communities to include both the local
and indigenous people in the [INAUDIBLE] district,
along [INAUDIBLE] River, as well. In addition, capacity building
for tourism operations, and the linkage between
local businesses and tourism networks at the state
level must be established. For this, the Ministry
of Tourism and Culture must take the lead in working
with all relevant stakeholders. Strategy two. Technology for
mangrove monitoring. The applications of
GRS and remote sensing in mangrove management
must be incorporated in the existing
manual monitoring practices by the Johor
forestry department. These technologies are
powerful at systematically and periodically measuring
the effectiveness of ongoing management practices. Subsequently, this provides
a more defensible basis for management actions
towards conservation. SPEAKER: Remote sensing is
one of the latest technology, I wouldn’t say latest
because it is there in the market since 1970s,
is the only practical way to get rapid information
about mangrove changes. HONG CHING GOH: Strategy three. Core management for
mangrove governance. The institutional structure
for managing natural resources in most developing countries,
including Malaysia, is based on a top down approach,
and is very much development driven. In light of sustainable
city’s development objectives, and the current state
of mangrove destruction, combination among interdependent
governance structures is the core of effective
mangrove management. As land is prescribed
as state matter under the federal
constitution, the agencies dealing with mangrove, such as
the Department of Environment, are merely technical advisers
reviewing land development proposals. They have little power
when it comes to land development decision making. It is recommended that these
agencies be given more power, and be directly involved in
the decision making process. Moreover, [INAUDIBLE] impact
assessment requirement must be strictly enforced. At the local level, the Iskandar
regional development authority has initiated efforts to
include local communities in mangrove
conservation projects. However, the scope
of participation is confined to
public [INAUDIBLE] and the capacity
building related to resource consumption. MADAM IVY WONG ABDULLAH:
Within IRDA we’ve got a social development
division that works closely with the communities to
ensure that whatever economic development that we
bring to the region, it needs to have the
inclusion of the people. For example, closely to mangrove
communities is the [INAUDIBLE] so we have been working
closely with them for the last few years to build
the capacity of the community in arranging visits by tourists
to the surrounding mangroves. So boat visits to the mangrove
forest, and also to the kelong, where the community is rearing
mussels, green mussels, and also some fishes. So I think the sea
bass and all that. We’re working with the
people because there’s a platform that was created,
Friends of Iskandar Ramsar, to work with them in carrying
out educational research programs. HONG CHING GOH:
It is [INAUDIBLE] that the level of
participations amongst local and indigenous
communities be expanded, and that they are not only
given the rights to use mangrove resources as
granted by the authorities, but also the rights to
take part in managing those resources together
with government agencies. For that, core management
becomes a viable means to bring all
stakeholders together despite their
different interests. Here, finding the right
mix of stakeholders to govern the resources
becomes the key. The Senai Pulai Forest
Reserve, an area in urgent need for
protected area status, provides a example of the need
for a core management strategy. At present, harvesting this on
a 20 years rotation schedule, is the major economic
activities here. The mangrove management
plan is outlined in the overall forestry
management plan but this will expire in 2015. VINCENT K.K. CHOW:
If it is talking about the role of
the forestry, I think they’re doing
a very good job. Although you see
mangrove being cut, but this is on rotation
basis, small areas where the concessionary will replant. So the only fear is the
original species maybe wiped out because they’re
going to mono-cropping. HONG CHING GOH: Therefore,
the preparations of a comprehensive
management plan specifically for mangrove forest
is urgently needed to indicate the
permitted land uses, the carrying capacity
of those uses, and the stakeholders
that need to be involved in the management process. Apart from the tree
shortages just described, the potential for
moral considerations and religious values to play a
unifying and revitalizing role in mangrove conservation, and
nature conservation in general, must be further explored
in development planning and at the societal level. In fact, a holistic
approach to land use development planning, known
as the total planning doctrine, was introduced in the mid-1990s
by the federal government of Malaysia. It aims to integrate
physical and social planning with moral and spiritual values. However, little evidence
shows the implementations of the approach in reality. At the societal level, the
dominant religious customs have been still mainly confined
to discrete practices, rather than a way of life,
which has the potential to cultivate a direct
connection between humans and the environment. WAN MOHD YUSOF WAN
CHIK: [NON ENGLISH] HONG CHING GOH:
Urbanization is one of the most complex
and important social economic phenomena
of the 21st century. It is forceful, irreversible,
and constantly evolving. It also represents a major
change in the extraction and consumptions of
nature resources, and the way that society
interacts with nature. Yet, if we only see
cities as a problem, we fail to recognize how cities
offer improved quality of life, and serve us the
centers for culture. The strategies
recommended in this video for mangrove governance
in Iskandar Malaysia incorporates a wide range of
appreciations for mangrove. This [INAUDIBLE] the quest
for a meaningful practice of sustainable
urban development. At the regional level
the strong presence of mangrove and
indigenous people presents an opportunity
for Iskandar Malaysia to be a unique living model
of a developing countries that substantially improve the
metropolises by making the relationship between nature,
culture, and view environment a synergized and symbiotic one. At the national level,
mangrove conservation directly supports
Malaysians’ efforts to reduce carbon emission in
light of the global climate change agenda. So are there
strategies likely to be useful for other cities facing
similar development driven challenges? Yes, they are. These studies is an
example of [INAUDIBLE] learning by sharing
lessons and ideas through digital communication. Similar to the case of Iskandar
Malaysia, many emerging cities in developing countries
are rich in natural resources and culture, and striving
for economic development has put tremendous pressure
on these precious assets. Meanwhile, transparency
has been a key concern in developing countries. Yet little evidence reveals
that transparency alone can make a significant
contribution towards sustainabilities’ goals. Benefits sharing and
capacity building, as highlighted in the
mangrove management strategies in this video,
are believed to be the enabling factors
for transparency to achieve its effect. However, the prioritizations
of these strategies require careful considerations
of the past and present, political and social
cultural context of the city, as well as the state
and the ideologies behind the region’s economic
development activity. Bye bye. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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