June 10, 2017

Seeking to Replant Borneo’s lost Trees

Seeking to Replant Borneo’s lost Trees

Planting trees is a fine way of rejuvenating nature. Photo Credit: Arbor Day Foundation

Malaysia, sad to say, is better known for cutting down trees wholesale than for planting them. That, however, might change. Encouragingly, several tree-planting initiatives have been taking root across the country from  Shah Alam to Sarawak.

In Borneo, members of the Malaysian Red Crescent have recently pledged to plant 100,000 trees in the next two years in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, and keep on planting even after that target has been reached. For starters, a total of 333 plant species were planted at a day-long inaugural event by volunteers from MRC in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan.

“We hope to plant 100,000 trees and I don’t know how soon we can achieve that but hopefully within a year or two and after that we celebrate and then plant again and maybe the next target is 500,000 trees,” Dr. George Chan, chairman of MRC Sarawak, was quoted as saying. Chan added that the aim is to reforest denuded areas in Sarawak in order to re-green local environments, to mitigate landslides and soil erosion, and to help combat the effects of climate change.

The forests of Sarawak are home to a stunning diversity of wildlife. Photo Credit: Design Sigh

Needless to say, this is a worthy goal. As we keep saying here on Clean Malaysia, DIY environmental initiatives can be invaluable means of improving our natural environments. We should not just sit around and wait for the government to do something. We can do our own part by consuming less, polluting less and littering less. And by planting trees, of course.

Our actions affect the environment, for better or worse, not only for us but for others as well. “We are facing climatic change and it affects everyone and it can get worst if we don’t know about it,” a local MRC member in Miri, in Sarawak, concurred during a tree-planting event. “[E]ven here in Miri were are facing it and every year we have haze and flood and if we don’t do something about it, it will get worse and this tree planting project is one way of greening our environment and make us healthy.”

Agreed. That said, planting trees alone won’t suffice. We’ll also have to stop cutting down yet more and more trees in forests if we are to make a real impact.

Luckily, several politicians in Sarawak, including Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg, agree with the need to keep replenishing forests and stop cutting down new trees. The chief minister has recently called on timber companies to replant decimated forests while simultaneously transitioning to forest plantations for their timber needs. “Special attention must be given to develop the forest plantation in Sarawak to ensure sufficient industrial timber for downstream industry especially furniture-making,” he stressed. “This will also reduce the harvesting pressure on our natural or protected forests.”

Amen to that.


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