Monday 1 April 2013

Protecting Our Mangroves - a Program by Petrosains PlaySmart Johor Bahru

The participants of the mangrove cleaning and replanting program.
 In conjunction with the recent Petrosains Environment Day Celebration 2013, Petrosains Playsmart Johor Bahru held a Mangrove replanting program at the Tanjung Piai National Park. University students, officials from government agencies, as well as the communities from the nearby areas lent a hand towards making the program a success. Agencies such as MARDI Johor and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia shared important and valuable knowledge with the public concerning the interdependence between man and nature, with specific references to the role of the mangroves.

Good turnout from various groups and communities in support of the program.
 The significance of coastal forests specifically mangroves in protecting the land against strong waves and winds has increasingly been recognised, especially after the tragedy of the 2004 tsunami. Many post-tsunami surveys and field research strongly support the findings that coastal forests can provide a physically powerful barrier protecting the land from high waves and storms. According to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), “one of the main functions of coastal forests is to absorb the impact forces and to retard the flow of large storm waves and tsunamis”. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world including Malaysia, there has been widespread loss of our natural ‘shield’ mainly due to agriculture, aquaculture and land development activities.

Although much has been lost, critical efforts to protect, conserve and rehabilitate mangrove areas are increasing, in the hope of rebuilding our ‘shield’ against natural hazards such as tsunamis.

During the mangrove replanting program, the participants braved mud and silt to help strengthen the coastal forest of the Tanjung Piai National Park. This is important as other than functioning as a wave breaker, mangrove forests are also a ‘strainer’. Debris such as plastics, bottles and other trash even natural ones like sticks are brought by the currents and are caught in between the tangled roots of the mangroves, thus keeping the waters clean and safe. That day, the participants managed to collect an amazing amount of debris totalling 315 kg in less than half an hour while replanting in areas that are sparse of trees especially once trash has been cleared.

This program by Petrosains PlaySmart Johor Bahru is a platform for educating Malaysians on the importance of the mangroves to mankind. Hopefully, in the future, many more will join up and contribute to the preservation of our natural treasures for a greener, cleaner and most importantly safer place for future generations of Malaysians.        

Trash cleanup.
Big haul of trash from the mangrove areas.

Sometimes nature could use a hand.

Replanting the mangroves where needed.

A participant learns the ropes of planting mangrove seedlings.

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