Where is the balance? Environment vs Development

Published: Fri, 29 Jun 2012

In a conference on sustainable forestry held recently, the deputy director-general of the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia, Datuk Nik Mohd Shah, said Malaysia targets to maintain at least 50 per cent forest cover in each state but Selangor – the most developed state in the country – only has 30 per cent forest cover due to rapid development pressure.

“Very often, for the sake of development, and in this case, infrastructural development, trees, especially older and bigger trees, are often removed without much consideration on their functions, especially to the local climate.

“For every big and older tree that is removed, we have lost 4-6 years of its value in terms of providing shade, storing water, soil stability, aesthetic values and in general, cooling the surrounding area (temperature reduction). And each time we plant a new seedling, we need to wait for at least 2-3 years before the tree starts to serve its function to the ecosystem.”

“We know development would not stop at this rate, yet most of us also understand the value of having trees. So the question remains: where do we strike a balance?” said Yasmin Rasyid, the president of EcoKnights, a non-profit environmental organisation based in Selangor.

The numbers of forested areas in Selangor are depleting. That’s a fact.

Yet many of us often underestimate the power of communities in ensuring that trees are maintained in any area.

If each individual from one household plants and maintains a tree within their compound, the state can indefinitely increase the total tree coverage. This also can translate to a significant reduction in surface temperature and possibly a decrease in carbon emissions of the state.

The “Sentinels of Time” digital photography competition is one of the many tools EcoKnights is utilising to engage local communities to take note of the importance of maintaining existing trees in the state, and also the need to start more individual or community-based tree planting efforts.

The competition challenges Selangorians to head outdoors to document digital images of big and majestic trees that can be found in the state.

“We hope the competition will get Selangorians’ attention to the plight of trees. Very often, it’s not in our daily routine to go out there and enjoy the functions and services of trees.

“In fact, I doubt many of us actually pay close attention to any kind of tree out there. Ask any urban child to name a tree; you’d be surprised to get blank stares in return. So we hope this competition can stir more members of the public to take note, document and share images of trees that mean something to them”, added Yasmin.

“It’s time we take this seriously and into our own hands. The forest department protects forested areas.

“Yet, we, as Malaysians who derive our daily benefits from the forests such as water, food and nature, need to start taking actions themselves and the simplest is to go out there, and start planting.

“Urban dwellers have such a big role to play and if we don’t start today, we are leaving a very hot, bare and dull environment for our next generation,” concluded Yasmin.

Around RM25, 000 worth of cash and prizes are to be won in this competition and participation is through an online submission of a digital image (between 2Mb to 5 MB in size) with a detail description of the location of the image.

The contest started on June 1. Contestants can submit single or multiple entries by Aug 30 to sentinelsoftime@ecoknights.org.my.

More information about the competition can be obtained from http://www.ecoknights.org.my/sentinelsoftime

To get an idea of what kind of images of majestic trees the competition is anticipating, do log on to their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SentinelsofTime.

 Selangor Times

Article Source http://www.selangortimes.com/index.php?section=news&permalink=20120629103808-where-is-the-balance-

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