Selangor State Level Celebration of World Wetlands Day 2018 at Raja Musa Forest Reserve

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KUALA SELANGOR, 25 February 2018: Armed with shovels, spades and 600 tree saplings of Tenggek burung (Melicope lunu-ankenda) and 30 trees of Ramin melawis (Gonystylus bancanus), the Selangor Stated Forestry Department (SSDF) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) led 150 volunteers to a 2 hectare of degraded area of Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) in Bestari Jaya on Saturday morning.

The mission is to re-plant the degraded area whilst promoting conservation of  peatland and wise use in partnership with local community and stakeholder as well as HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad in conjunction with Selangor State Level Celebration of World Wetlands Day 2018.

The event also saw three  drones handed over by Dato’ Dr. Hj. Mohd Puat Bin Dahalan, Director of the Selangor State Forestry Department to the Enforcement Unit of SSFD, Forest Operation Unit of SSFD and Hulu Selangor District Forest Office. These drones will be used for forest protection and to monitor and prevent forest encroachment and peatland fire.

Speaking to the media after launching the event, Dato’ Dr. Hj. Mohd Puat Bin Dahalan said, “Retaining a healthy peatland requires concerted effort from all parties. In the case of Raja Musa Forest Rehabilitation Programme, we managed to establish a good partnership with stakeholders, NGOs, and local community as well as corporate involvement like the HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad.

We have been working together towards the same goal – that is to retain, restore and preserve the forest complex which has been the subject of global conservation interest as it habours enormous biological diversity while providing important benefits and services of national interest. To preserve the peatland area, does not mean we are depriving development.

It is quite the opposite. Retaining, restoring and preserving this particular Selangor peatland will contribute towards making cities and towns in surrounding the forest safe, resilient and sustainable in the long run”. He added well-functioning peatland ecosystems have greater resilience to climate change, enhanced economic and biodiversity benefits and contribute towards sustainable development in Selangor State.

According to the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, half of humanity (about 4 billion people) live in urban areas today. By 2050 that proportion will reach 66% as people move to cities in search of jobs and a vibrant social life. Cities account for around 80% of global economic output. As cities expand and demand for land increases, the tendency is to encroach on wetlands, they are degraded, filled in and built upon. Yet when left intact or restored, urban wetlands make cities liveable.

“The aim of this event is to promote awareness on the climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through low emission development and sustainable peatland and forest management. Raja Musa Forest Reserve is the perfect example to showcase that a Sustainable Forest Management can effectively tackle climate change“said  Mukhtar Malik Hussain Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad.

Mukhtar added since 2011 HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad has made a commitment in supporting Selangor State Government and SSFD through GEC to implement the Raja Musa Forest Rehabilitation Programme and Integrated Management Plan for North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest 2014-2023.

Faizal Parish, GEC’s Director who is also an international peatland expert said “Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) in Selangor is a unique ecosystem. The RMFR is important not only for the forest cover, but also for its role in the hydrology functions of the ecosystem.

These includes its role in flood mitigation, maintenance of river base flows, providing habitats for the many PSF restricted flora & fauna, replenishing drinking water, filtering waste and improving water quality, improving air quality, promoting human well-being – enabling the local communities to earn a living and last but not least, serving as a vital carbon sink.  This event is in line with 2018 World Wetlands Day theme which is Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future that seeks to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands in making cities safe, resilient and sustainable”.

Since commencement of the Raja Musa Forest Reserve rehabilitation programme through community participation in 2008, more than 113,000 saplings have been planted by SSFD, GEC, community group called the Friends of North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest and more than 21,000 volunteers, covering 190 hectares. With more than 100 canal blocks built with 200 volunteers at the forest to raise water level and wet the soil to prevent fire.

As the result of conservation and preservation programme, the North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest not only has gained local recognition but also internationally. On September 13, 2017, Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) has accredited and approved the nomination of peat swamp forests in Raja Musa Forest Reserve as an important site that needs to be conserved for future generation.

The recognition was seen when QCC delegation from England visited the Centre of Excellence in Raja Musa Forest Reserve through Queen’s Baton Relay run that was jointly organised by SSFD and The Royal Commonwealth Society on October 18, 2017.