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    Default Rotarians do their bit in mangrove reforestation (New Straits Times, Johor)

    GREEN ACTIVITY: Sixty Rotarians, together with families and friends, planted mangrove saplings at the Tanjung Piai Johor National Park

    JOHOR: IN the wake of natural disasters and an increased awareness of the ecological and economic role of mangrove forests, there is now a greater commitment to preserve these wetlands.

    So it was that the Rotary Club of Johor Baru organised its Preserve Planet Earth event recently, the first in its Mangrove Reforestation Project.

    In line with the Rotary International theme for 2012-2013, Peace Through Service, a group of 60 Rotarians, together with their families and friends, got together for a mangrove replanting exercise at the Tanjung Piai Johor National Park.

    The park consists of 926ha of forest, of which 526ha are coastal mangroves made up of more than 20 true species of mangrove and nine associated species of mangrove.

    It is also home to wetland wildlife such as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

    Declared a Ramsar site in 2003, the park cannot be disturbed ecologically.

    The club members were joined by members from the Rotary clubs of Tebrau, Pontian and Kulai, and that of Bukit Timah and e-Club 3310 in Singapore.

    There were also several members from the Johor Baru Senior Citizens Association among the guests.

    Upon arrival, the group was welcomed by Park manager Khalid Zahrom, who gave an overview of the park by showing a video and briefing them on the replanting process.

    "This is the biggest gathering of Rotarians in Pontian," said Rotary district governor elect Lee Kong Hwee as he welcomed everyone to his hometown of Pontian.

    He fondly recalled his childhood days when he first saw bakau or mangrove timber ferried around town.

    "Now we understand how valuable these mangroves are to our environment and how they should be harvested sustainably," said Lee.

    Mangrove forests are ecosystems along sheltered coasts, and Malaysia's mangroves are more diverse than those in tropical Australia, Africa and the Americas.

    Mangroves protect the coastline by acting as wave breaks and serve as natural barriers against torrential storms and tsunamis.

    Their tough root systems not only trap debris, sediments, nutrients and toxic elements, but also provide breeding grounds for fish, crabs, prawns and other marine life essential for the fishing industry.

    "Let us not take the wetlands for granted, for our very existence depends on them," said organising chairman Freddie Long, who emphasised that we need to help Nature by replanting depleting forests.

    He also said we need to educate the younger generation and promote public awareness on the importance of mangrove ecosystems.

    "I hope the corporate sector and other non-governmental organisations will include Tanjung Piai and mangrove conservation as part of their corporate social responsibility," he added.

    One of the activities that is encouraged when replanting is the retrieval and proper disposal of debris from the mangrove forests.

    On behalf of the club, Long thanked park staff for helping the Rotarians in the replanting activities and thanked the Forestry Department for providing the 500 saplings.

    "This is the pilot event in our Mangrove Reforestation Project.

    "It will be followed by more environment preservation programmes," said Rotary Club of Johor Baru president Ng Swee Poh, who described the replanting activities as an eye-opener for many.

    The sentiment was echoed by in-coming president Francis Gopal.

    "In the next phase, we hope to work with the Malaysia Nature Society in educational programmes with youths," said Gopal.

    Shod in rubber boots, the group made their way down the boardwalk to the mangrove forest for their hands-on experience of replanting the saplings.

    They followed the lead of park staff who demonstrated how the saplings should be planted in the soil that was made soft and muddy with the endless ebb and flow of the tides.

    After the saplings were planted in the ground, the staff secured each sapling by tying it to a supporting stick.

    A visit to the park is not complete without a trek to the southern-most tip of mainland Asia.

    So after the replanting activities, the group made their way along a boardwalk built through the forest to this spot.

    Along the way, they stopped to read plaques with interesting information on wetland wildlife and then extraordinary range of flora and fauna such as the piai plant, a wild fern from which the park derived its name.

    At the close of the event, participants were rewarded with a certificate of achievement as a special memento of a day well-spent at the park.

    Tanjung Piai Johor National Park is in Serkat in the Pontian district of Johor. It is about 92km from Johor Baru.

    For group events and enquiries, call the Johor National Park Corporation at 07-223 7471, or 07-224 2525.

    You can also fax 07-223 7472, or visit

    Read more: Rotarians do their bit in mangrove reforestation - Johor - New Straits Times
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    Last edited by bschew; 07-05-2012 at 11:04 PM.


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