24 November 2008

Sungai Pulai mangroves featured in new book

The largest mangrove area in Johor and second largest in Peninsular Malaysia, the Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve covers 9,126ha and was the first mangrove forest to be gazetted by Johor in 1923. It was listed as a Ramsar Site on Jan 2003 together with Tanjung Piai and Pulau Kukup. An estimated 46% of mangroves in Johor were lost from 1955 to 1998, due to illegal logging, clearing of upland vegetation and land reclamation. The Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve is managed by the state Forestry Department in supplying forest products, especially wood for charcoal making.
Efforts at Sungai Pulai include the Save our Seahorses effort which monitor seahorses and seagrasses there. These habitats are currently under threat by a RM2 billion 2,000 ha petrochemical plant planned upstream of the Sungai Pulai estuary, to supply new manufacturing concerns anticipated for southern Johor.

Focus on mangrove areas
Zazali Musa, The Star 24 Nov 08;
JOHOR BARU: The richness and uniqueness of the Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve has been documented in a coffeetable book entitled Biodiversity of Sungai Pulai, Ramsar Site, Johor.

The book was published by the Earth Observation Centre of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

UEM Land Bhd sponsored the publication of 1,500 copies of the book with a RM100,000 contribution.

It will be distributed to academic institutions, public libraries and schools in Gelang Patah under the Smart School project.

UEM Land is the developer of the Nusajaya township covering 9,712.45ha and designed to have a population of 500,000 over the next 20 years.

The book project started in 2002 and involved the Johor government, Department of Environment, Forestry Department, Fisheries Department and other agencies.

“It is written as a joint contribution to boost public awareness on invaluable natural habitats and resources,’’ said co-author Assoc Prof Dr Norhayati Ahmad, who is also chairman of the Langkawi Research Centre’s Institute of Environment and Development.

The 97-page book is divided into five chapters — Mangrove Forests in South Johor, Mangrove Flora, The Herpetofauna — amphibians and reptilians, The Birds and The Mammals.

Also present was co-author Wan Juliana Wan Ahmad, a lecturer at UKM’s School of Environmental Science and Natural Resource Studies, Faculty of Science and Technology, and UEM Land corporate communication general manager Karimah Tan Abdullah.

The Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve is the largest mangrove area in Johor and the second-largest in the peninsular covering 9,126ha from Jeram Batu in the north to Tanjung Piai in the southwest and Tanjung Pelepas in the southeast.

It was the first mangrove forest to be gazetted by the state, in 1923, and is managed by the state Forestry Department in supplying forest products, especially wood for charcoal making.

The reserve was listed as a Ramsar Site on Jan 31, 2003, a wetland of international importance together with Tanjung Piai and Pulau Kukup.

There are three other Ramsar sites in Malaysia — Pahang’s Tasik Bera (Nov 10, 1994), the Kuching Wetlands National Park (Nov 8, 2005) and the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetland in Sabah (Oct 28, 2008) — among 1,822 Ramsar sites worldwide.

Norhayati said that mangroves in most Malaysian coastal waters had suffered heavily from illegal logging, clearing of upland vegetation and land reclamation.

This has resulted in the disappearance of large mangrove areas.

It is estimated that, between 1980 and 1990, 12% of the country’s mangrove forests disappeared while in Johor it decreased by 46% from 1955 to 1998.

"The Sungai Pulai mangrove forest is important in preventing coastal erosion and protecting local inhabitants against storms and wave surges," said Norhayati.

She said the tsunami of 2004 was an important lesson as the felling of mangrove trees, which act as a buffer zone in coastal areas, allowed the waves to travel several kilometres inland.

Mangrove forests are breeding sites for marine creatures like fishes, crabs, prawns and shellfish. It provides a sanctuary for these creatures to hatch and grow before returning to the open sea.

Norhayati said that for every 0.4ha of forest destroyed, fish harvesting was reduced by up to 304kg, making fishermen no longer able to fish.

"Conservation should go in tandem with development to benefit the community and ecosystem in the long run," she said.

More links
and MORE articles about Sungei Pulai on the wildsingapore news blog.

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