Wednesday, January 30, 2013

3 more rare Borneo elephants mysteriously found dead

Wildlife officials investigate the death of an elephant at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Thirteen endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in the Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances.
Wildlife officials investigate the death of an elephant at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Thirteen endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in the Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances. (Sabah Wildlife Department/Associated Press)


13 deaths this month, suspiscions of poisoning


Malaysian authorities discovered the decomposing remains of another three endangered Borneo pygmy elephants today, deepening a mystery surrounding at least 13 such deaths this month.

The wildlife department in Malaysia's Sabah state is bracing for the possibility of finding more dead elephants in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, where an unknown number of the animals roam, said Masidi Manjun, Sabah's environment minister.

Police are investigating suspicions that the elephants were poisoned. Officials have declined to say whether there are any suspects.

The first 10 known deaths captured wide attention when they were made public this week. Authorities released several photographs of the elephant carcasses and a particularly poignant one of a three-month-old surviving calf that appeared to be trying to wake its dead mother.

"There is definitely a sense of urgency," Masidi said by telephone from Sabah on Wednesday. "We cannot discount the possibility of more bad news."

The orphaned male elephant, nicknamed "Joe" by his rescuers, was transported to a Sabah wildlife park. Officials say he is under observation and appears healthy.

Fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants


The WWF conservation group estimates that fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants exist. Most live in Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on Borneo island, and grow to about 2.5 metres tall, about 30 to 60 centimetres shorter than mainland Asian elephants.

Known for their babyish faces, large ears and long tails, Borneo pygmy elephants were found to be a distinct subspecies only in 2003, after DNA testing.

Officials are working to have a laboratory analysis of samples from the dead elephants ready "as soon as possible," Masidi said.

Department veterinarians have said the elephants, believed to belong to a single herd, suffered severe hemorrhages and ulcers in their gastrointestinal tracts.

Source: CBC News


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten Ways to Keep an Eco-Friendly Home and Practice Sustainable Living

With the environment a serious concern these days, finding ways to practice sustainable living is really important, and thankfully top priority for many people. Whether you are the head of your household or still live with your parents, encouraging sustainable living practices is a great way to help the environment. It may not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps. Every person who practices sustainable living actually influences many around them, and this helps the environment significantly. Here are ten ways you can practice sustainable living in your home.

1. Showers
Saving on water is essential to sustainable living. Getting in the habit of taking 3-5 minute showers instead of 30 minute showers not only saves on your heating and water bills, but will help the environment.

2. Recycle!
This may seem obvious, but recycling is an absolutely necessary part of sustainable living. One can or bottle can be reused many times, making it unnecessary to produce more and more.

3. Paper
Whether your three year old loves coloring or you are a student who takes many notes, encouraging everyone to use both sides of every piece of paper is a great way to practice sustainable living. You will get twice the use out of every piece, and you can then recycle to further your sustainable living goals!

4. Electricity
A big part of sustainable living is the use of energy, electricity included. Doing simple things like shutting off the lights when you leave a room and keeping the house dark at night and while you're running errands can really help your sustainable living effort.

5. Gasoline
Using as little gasoline as possible is, quite obviously, a major concern these days because of gas prices, but also because of the environment. Finding ways to save on gas will not only save your wallet, but can provide sustainable living as well. Take the bus, carpool with a friend, or simply practice driving less.

6. Plastic
When you have children, it is tempting to buy loads full of the newest plastic toys for them to play with. Unfortunately, this is not the way to go if you want to practice sustainable living. Consider more wood based toys, as they will last longer and can be burned instead of thrown away when they become old or broken.

7. Cleaning your home.
Use eco-friendly household cleaners like Simple Green when you are cleaning your home. This will keep any bad chemicals away from you and your family and make sustainable living even easier.

8. Clothing
Clothing takes a lot of energy and materials to produce and transport for customers to buy. Sustainable living can be achieved by buying used clothing and exchanging some of you old clothes in too. You can also practice sustainable living by wearing your clothes until you actually need new ones, and cutting on unnecessary shopping sprees.

9. Food
Plant a garden for sustainable living! You will spend less gas going to the market for vegetables, you can be sure you're plants are organic, and you will have healthier and tastier produce every day. Planting a garden for your family is an excellent way to enhance sustainable living.

10. Use Reusable Items
Paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic silverware that you can throw away are very damaging to sustainable living. It may be easier to throw them away instead of having to do all those dishes, but it hurts the environment. Practice using dishes and silverware that you can scrub and reuse, and cloth napkins that you can wash and place out again the next night to help sustainable living.


Go Green Malaysia

Hydrophonics (example)
By Ragunathan Santiagoo and Wong Yee Shian

The advance science and technology have made ways to minimize independence on soil for plant cultivation. The Hydroponics from the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labour) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel or mineral wool.

Plant physiology researchers discovered in the 19th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics, but some will do better than others. 

There are two main types of hydroponics technique. They are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture does not use a solid medium for the roots, just the nutrient solution. The medium culture method has a solid medium for the roots and is named for the type of medium, e.g. sand culture, gravel culture or rockwool culture. 

Advantages of Hydrophonic Method 

Compared to the conventional cultivation method it has various advantages. The farmer has full control on the crops, can be planted densely with less rate of fertilizer usage. The crop can also be harvested faster without deteoration of bad climate and pesticides usage. It is capable of producing 2000 tonnes of tomato per hectare per year of land compared to the conventional cultivation of at 50 to 100 tonnes per hectare per year. Saves an incredible amount of water; it uses as little as 1/20 the amount as a regular farm to produce the same amount of food. Hydroponics technology has made high altitude crops species able to be cultivated in temperate climate in Malaysia. Salad Webb Wonderful Lolla Blonda The hydroponics technique is suitable for variety of crops in Malaysia such as in the following. 

Type of crop suitable for hydroponics cultivation in Malaysia Crop Category

Vegetable - Salad, cabbage, tomato, chilli, cucumber
Flowers - Rose, orchid
Herbs - Chives, mint, parsley, sage, thyme
Fruits - Banana, watermelon

(Source:Terangganu Hydroponics Association, 2006) 

The most common technique used in hydrophonic cultivation for farming in malaysia is the continuous flow culture which are known as the “nutrient film technique”. In this technique the nutrient solution constantly flows past the roots. Whereby a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is recirculated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully, also known as channels. Ideally, the depth of the recirculating stream should be very shallow, little more than a film of water, hence the name ‘nutrient film’. A properly designed NFT system is based on using the right channel slope, the right flow rate and the right channel length. 

Do It Yourself (DIY) 

As for beginners or any household may try them which is relatively easy to be carried out. Plants can be grown in containers of nutrient solution such as, plastic buckets, tubs or tanks. The solution is kept low enough that sufficient roots are above the solution so they get adequate oxygen. A hole is cut in the lid of the reservoir for each plant. A homemade system can be constructed from plastic food containers with aeration provided by an aquarium pump, aquarium airline tubing and aquarium valves. Clear containers are covered with aluminium foil, butcher paper, black plastic or other material to exclude light, thus helping to eliminate the formation of algae. The nutrient solution is changed on a schedule, such as once per week. 


Hydrophonic technique of plant cultivation may serve as a solution for food shortage due to the rapid industrialization and global environmental changes. The basics of this technology can be explored by starting our own vegetable cultivation in the kitchen yard. Without doubt it will produce much yield and benefits to its owner if the culture is made with a little attention. Let us go green Malaysian, cultivate your own food, it may worth a lot for the embraces. 


10 rare pygmy elephants found dead in Sabah

A baby elephant stays close to a dead pygmy elephant in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, some 130 kilometers from Tawau in Malaysia's Sabah state. AFP
A baby elephant stays close to a dead pygmy elephant in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, some 130 kilometers from Tawau in Malaysia's Sabah state. AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 29, 2013): Ten endangered pygmy elephants were found dead this month in Malaysian Borneo and are thought to have been poisoned, conservation officials said Tuesday.

Wildlife authorities in Sabah, a state on the eastern tip of the island, have formed a taskforce together with the police and WWF to investigate the deaths.

Laurentius Ambu, Sabah wildlife department director, said it received a report last Wednesday of four dead pygmy elephants in the Gunung Rara forest reserve.

But officials were "shocked" to find another four of the animals, a rare sub-species of the Asian elephant, dead or dying after inspecting the area for two days, he said.

"Early this year, two highly decomposed elephant carcasses were found in the general vicinity of where these eight animals were found. We believe that all the deaths of these elephants are related," he said in a statement.

Sen Nathan, the department's senior veterinarian, said in the statement "we highly suspect" the animals died due to poisoning after finding severe ulceration and bleeding in their digestive tracts.

"It was actually a very sad sight to see all those dead elephants, especially one of the dead females who had a very young calf of about three months old. The calf was trying to wake the dead mother up," he said.

Masidi Manjun, the state's environment minister, vowed to take tough action.

"If indeed these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned I would personally make sure that the culprits would be brought to justice and pay for their crime," he said in the statement.

There are fewer than 2,000 Borneo pygmy elephants, which are smaller and have more rounded features compared to normal Asian elephants, left in the wild, according to authorities. 

Activists warn that pygmy elephants are fast losing their natural habitat to deforestation and human encroachment on Borneo, a vast island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. – AFP

Source: The Sun Daily

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Permanent Food Production Park in Putatan

Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin together with Director of Agriculture Department Datuk MC Ismail Salam checking on a rock melon during the inspection of food production park site in Putatan.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin together with Director of Agriculture Department Datuk MC Ismail Salam checking on a rock melon during the inspection of food production park site in Putatan.

The 5 hectares permanent food production park in Putatan is expected to generate RM5 million income by its first year of production in 2014.

The park which costs RM10,365,000 is financed by the federal government as part of the government’s strategy to develop a permanent place for food production on a commercial scale using high technology agriculture practices.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin said the park was planned to help the country to cope with the rising demand for vegetables and fruits.

“This permanent food production park will increase our food production and reduce food imports. The project can also encourage the private sector to participate in food production. It will provide jobs as well as optimise agricultural yields.

“As far as food is concerned our balance of trade is not satisfactory so we are trying to meet the domestic demands first before considering exports,” Yahya told reporters during the inspection of the park at the Putatan Integrated Agricultural Training Centre today.

He said that rock melon will be the first crop to be cultivated. Later other high valued crops such as eggplant and chilli will be produced.

There are four more permanent food production park projected soon apart from the one at Putatan and one in Tawau. There will be  one in Sungai Lokan Kinabatangan which covers 723 hectares and Padawan Mandalipau in Papar which will have 517 hectares, Sungai Koyah Kinabatangan with 80 hectares, and 15 hectares in Masilou, Kundasang which will produce fruits and vegetables.

The Director of Sabah Agriculture Department, Datuk M.C Ismail Salam disclosed that the permanent food production park in Tawau which is the first food production centre in Sabah has collected an income of more than RM1 million so far.

M.C Ismail said that he expected that the programme in Putatan will also yield a high return and create jobs for the local people.

“11 participants including graduates in agriculture will be selected to participate in the Putatan permanent food production project. The candidates will go through a screening process to ensure the success of the project,” he said.

He also told reporters that the Putatan permanent food production parks project will use rock melon seeds imported from Japan and will be cultivated in sheltered plots.

The commercial price of rock melon imported from Australia sold in Malaysia fetches as much as RM76 each.

Source: Insight Sabah 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marine Park Cleanliness is Important

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said rubbish pollution had reached an alarming level in Sabah and there were cases where tourists did not want to come here.

He said the sight of wastes at tourist spots could drive potential tourists away, adding that locals should play their role and participate in cleaning activity to maintain a clean environment.

Last year, City Hall had stepped up efforts to make Kota Kinabalu a clean city. These included the introduction of proper waste management programme to the people living on the islands and coastal areas within the city's jurisdiction.

Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said City Hall had been carrying out various intensive cleanliness programmes on the mainland as well as nearby villages on Gaya Island.

He also gave an assurance that enforcement efforts would be intensified to curb the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish like plastic bags into the sea.

Dive operators in the state have also contributed to underwater conservation by implementing Project Aware.

The move by scuba divers have helped to keep the ocean clean from debris and it has been conducted here, on Mantanani Island, Mabul Island and in Semporna.

University Malaysia Sabah students had also taken the initiative to clean up beaches.

They spent three hours picking up rubbish along the bay in Likas here, last month.

More than 30 volunteers, comprising locals and foreigners, had joined in the effort to create a clean city environment.

In April, Astro would be attempting a Guiness World Record for the longest underwater clean-up project at 14 dive sites at TARP.

The Astro Kasih Beautiful Malaysia project hopes to create an awareness of marine conservation and, at the same time, engage with local community.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Importance of clean environment

Clean vs dirty environment
It is very important to take care about our environment because our health directly depends on the health of our environment. It is very easy to find dirt and pollution at many places across the world and large population of world is living in such bad and unhygienic conditions. People are drinking unclean drinking water and they are breathing polluted air; so, this pollution of environment is causing many people to suffer from various health problems. Whereas if we live in a clean environment then we can live a healthy life and we can achieve this by understanding the importance of clean environment.

It is very important for every individual in this world to understand that clean environment is very important for health of all human being. Any kind of pollution which is causing damage to environment is equally bad for whole humanity. Today various kind of serious health problems like cancer are increasing fast across the world and main reason behind the increase of these health problems is increasing pollution of our environment.

Today, we see a slight awareness in masses about increasing pollution levels and therefore, we are seeing some actions from all wakes of life; however, still lots of work is required to be done by all of us to have a clean and healthy environment. First step in this campaign is to make people aware about importance of clean environment and how it can help us in remaining healthy. 

Govt urged to set up institute for urban governance

Urban governance

KUALA LUMPUR: Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye yesterday called for the setting up of a government-funded Institute for Urban Governance to serve the needs for better urban governance in cities and towns as a result of rapid urbanisation. It is time for the government to set up such an institute which can function as a national resource and training center for urban governance and development, he said in a statement yesterday.

“The institute helps to facilitate research activities, provide support to academicians and individuals to undertake research and provide consultancy on urban issues.

“The proposed institute can also provide support and policy advice to the government in urban governance, development and management,” said Lee.

He added the institute can be established with the expertise from institutions of higher learning, research organisations and government agencies will conduct academic programmes in urban planning for local government officials and others to better manage our cities and towns.

Lee said urban issues related to the process of globalisation, environment problems, urban poverty, urban sustainability, the issue of urban governance and how to improve the quality of urban life are among the many issues that need to be addressed effectively.

Source: New Sabah Times

A plan to clean up our rivers

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun announced on Wednesday that the State Government has adopted a 20-year long-term plan to clean up the Inanam, Darau and Likas rivers.

He told reporters this during the Astro Kasih Press Conference on Wednesday.

Masidi said that an official announcement would be made in the near future regarding this action plan.

According to Masidi, studies have found that the biggest contributors of pollutants and rubbish come from the hinterland.

“We can point our fingers at the villagers in Pulau Gaya, but while they do contribute to pollution, the bulk of the rubbish comes from the rivers, waterways and drains in and around Kota Kinabalu and further upstream, which are washed into the sea and then brought back to shore by the waves,” he said.

Masidi stressed that the task to clean up our rivers must be shouldered by the citizens of the country. It is up to us Sabahans to take the initiative to clean up the environment. 

Source: Insight Sabah

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Micro-hydro to benefit Kg Tiku folks in Penampang

Micro hydro project kg tiku Penampang
L-R: UNDP's Lai Sook Mei, TONIBUNG's Adrian Lasimbang and Kg Tiku folk Mozes Gisu.
Credit: Daily Express photo.

A community project coordinated by TONIBUNG, a local non-governmental organisation costing US$50,000 will benefit 18 families in Kampung Tiku Penampang.

This is indeed a welcomed effort of individuals leading to the provision of grant by the GEF Small Grants Programme (a corporate programme implemented by UNDP). Kudos to them!

The micro-hydro system

The micro hydro system is expected to produce 5kW of renewable energy harnessed from the flow of a river in the village. Taking 80% load factor, for example, each family will get 220W of power round the clock. This will power up four 36W fluorescent lamps and one ceiling fan. Also, it is good enough to charge mobile phones (if the area is covered by cellular signal).

Kg Tiku is reachable on 4-wheel drive vehicles for a one and a half hour drive along a timber track. Because of this, it is very difficult to connect the village to the existing SESB power grid.

Among others, the project will benefit the villagers by enabling them to produce more handicrafts, children enjoy longer hours to do school works, and more importantly the people will no longer depend on gasoline/diesel generators which is expensive to operate.

What is there for the environment

UNDP and TONIBUNG believe that having the system in place would give the local communities the incentive to protect their watershed areas. I personally believe this is really the case as we had similar previous experience with Kg Babagon Toki (a school at the far end of Babagon Dam catchment area).

When you get the folks involved in programmes to protect the environment they tend to have some sort of sense of belonging. Of course there's a little bit of 'carrot' given away in the process. But it is a win-win deal.

Through similar programme, two other villages in the Ulu Kaiduan area not far from Kg Tiku have enjoyed similar facilities. They are Kg Buayan and Kg Terian.

Big thanks to the guys who made this possible!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Practices of Sustainable Farming

Sustainable Farming
Sustainable agriculture is the act of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term:
  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
  • Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole
[Source: Wikipedia]

Below are the 10 practices that lead to sustainable farming.

1: Use of Alternative Energy

Basically, solar and wind energy are the most known alternative energy. However, some forms of alternative energy can be generated base on the location of the crops. For instance, hydroelectric power might be an option for larger farms near a source of running water. Bio-fuels are another clean source of energy which can be manufactured from cottonseed oil, and it's not only a cheap source of energy, but also a very clean one. 

2: Growing to Sell Locally

Growing and buying locally is key to sustainability, as it enriches the community, minimizes energy consumption, and protects air and soil quality. It also encourages farming in a small scale, so you can have faster turnovers. This in turn pushes more money into the local economy, benefiting the buyers and eventually the farmers again.When grow and sell in the same town, and you won't have to worry about the pollution created by having to transport, package and store crops.

3: Management of Water

There are two common problems in water management in farms: the poor performance of irrigation systems and water waste. Inefficient irrigation systems can deplete rivers, degrade soil and affect wildlife. So, one must ensure the irrigation systems work efficiently. Some farms even set up recycling systems in order to reuse municipal waste water for irrigation. The best way to manage water usage in farms is to choose native crops, select drought-tolerant crops and mulching. 

4: Physical Removal of Weeds

This might be impractical for large farms, smaller crops can easily be taken care of without the use of chemicals. Hand removal is labour intensive and usually only reserved for specific areas machines can't reach or where the crops are too fragile. Most of the physical removal of weeds is done through the use of agricultural machinery or tools. Mowing and grazing are especially effective before weeds produce seeds. Not only does this prevent the weeds from reproducing, but the weeds can also become mulch if not removed. Burning old crops is also an option, but one that should be approached carefully. Not only can burning damage the soil and the local wildlife, but it's also dangerous to the workers. 

5: Managed Grazing

Managed grazing is basically a livestock rotation that moves animals to graze in different areas. Managing their grazing by moving them around will ensure better exposure to a variety of plants, and it also means less erosion because you don't have the animals tromping over the same area of land over and over. Besides, it also helps with weed control and soil fertility. Natural fertilizer can be 'produced' from the manure left behind.  

6: Soil Fertility

Soil healthy is very crucial since the crops get most of their nutrients directly from the soil. Tillage practices, which consist of plowing, turning and airing the soil, have been around for centuries and are still as useful as ever. Many farmers leave some crop residue on the ground before they till to add to the richness of the soil. Adding organic matter, such as manure or cover crops, can also help the soil. Other organic compounds that can be added to the ground as fertilizers include alfalfa meal, wood ash, animal byproducts, rock and mineral products, and alumino-silicate materials. 

7: Attracting Beneficial Animals

To get rid of  pests and harmful insects is to invite in their natural predators. Bats and birds are the two most obvious choices. Both typically stick around if they have a place to nest. Meanwhile, organic pest control is to ensure that beneficial insects also stick around. Ladybugs, beetles, green lacewing larvae and fly parasites all feed on pests, including aphids, mites and pest flies. 

8: Integrated Pest Management

It is the combination of different techniques to create an effective pest control system.The first step is monitoring and identifying pests. Not all pests need to be eliminated. By using techniques like choosing pest-resistant crops, rotating crops and using beneficial insects, the risk of pests settling in is smaller. Prevention is also part of integrated pest management.When it's time to attack pests, targeted spraying is best. 

9. Crop Diversity

These variations ensure genetic diversity, which makes the crops stronger. To help protect their crops against disease and pests, farmers can plant variations of the same species, getting seeds from different growers to ensure small but important differences among the plants.

10: Crop Rotation

Last but not least, crop rotation. It is probably the oldest and simplest system used to maintain the health of soil. While it might not seem so to the non-farming community, crop rotation has a logical order, chosen so the crops planted today can help replenish the nutrients that the previous crops depleted from the soil. In most cases, the system is simple: Plant grains after legumes or row crops after grains.


Monday, January 21, 2013

'Smart village' ties modernity with sustainable living

A new initiative in Malaysia is giving rural populations hope of a better life with the creation of a model "smart village." The idea is to create a largely self-sufficient community which also sources energy and food in a sustainable manner.
Sustainable living

A "smart village" aimed at tackling rural poverty while promoting community and sustainability has been unveiled in Malaysia.

Built to the northeast of capital Kuala Lumpur, Rimbunan Kaseh is the result of a public/private partnership and could be used as a model for providing relief from poverty around the world, according to its creators.

In addition to 100 homes, residents have access to educational, training and recreational facilities on site as well as a sustainable agricultural system which provides a reliable food source and a supplementary income for residents.

A four-level aquaculture system plays host to guppies and algae which provide food for larger fish like protein-rich tilapia. Filtered water from the fish tanks is also used to irrigate trees, flowers and crops.

"It is a complete loop; a modern farm -- one that could even exist on the rooftop of a building," Tan Say Jim, managing director of Malaysia's IRIS Corporation Berhad, who are spearheading efforts, said in a statement.

"With this project we stimulate rural growth with modern agriculture activities, we balance development and economic activities between the urban and rural areas, we provide income and we improve living standards," Tan added.

All the homes on the 12-hectare site are energy efficient, sourcing power from solar panels complimented by biomass and hydro.

Further villages are planned at as many as 12 locations in the country which will form a network of "smart communities" laying the foundations for future jobs and prosperity, developers predict.

Progress in poverty reduction has been "uneven" in Malaysia, according to the United Nations Development Program, with "pockets of hard-core rural poverty remaining." But the situation is an improving one, with the national poverty rates falling sharply over the last two decades.

Read more on: CNN

Fun Facts about Trees


Trees and the Environment
  • Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
  • The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year.
  • One acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
  • Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
  • Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
  • Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
  • Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
  • The cottonwood tree seed is the seed that stays in flight the longest. 
  • The tiny seed is surrounded by ultra-light, white fluff hairs that can carry it on the air for several days.

Keeping the wild

Kinabatangan River

A new manual guides plantation managers on making estates friendly to wildlife.

THE basin of the Kinabatangan river, the longest river in Sabah and rich in biodiversity, has been transformed by logging and agricultural activities in the last 60 or so years.

In 2002, the Corridor of Life project was initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia and the conservation group has since been working with Sabah Wildlife Department, local communities and oil palm companies to rehabilitate and re-establish forests along the riverbank. The effort has shown some positive results.

“We’ve looked at some oil palm plantations that are close to the Kinabatangan river, and it’s quite exciting,” said Dr Reza Azmi, founder and executive director of Wild Asia, a group which works with businesses to improve their environmental practices. “You have some amazing birds popping in, there are orang utans visiting on a regular basis, and elephants dropping by.”

The Corridor of Life project is one of the case studies cited inBiodiversity In Plantation Landscapes, a manual published by Wild Asia and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Wild Asia wanted a way to get managers with very little environmental and biodiversity knowledge to become more aware. So the manual was created as a kind of one-stop shop. It provides a primer on biodiversity and offers ways in which plantation managers can protect and enhance biodiversity in estates.

Handy guide

The manual does this by identifying landscape-level impacts, such as loss of natural habitats, and provides suggestions on how to manage such impacts. It also gives solutions for the use of fertilisers (which run the risk of runoffs contaminating aquatic environments) and pesticides (risk of poisoning wildlife), waste management and soil erosion, and managing water resources.

“For an existing plantation, sedimentation would be the big environmental issue,” said Reza. “You get this from replanting areas, or roads may have runoffs of sediment. And when you channel all this into your streams, it silts up the streams. The biodiversity of the streams are reduced.”

As they are planted with a single crop, plantations have been criticised for upsetting nature’s ecological balance. Reza said sometimes not everything in an area is cultivated, and that could be a good thing.

“Sometimes they leave pockets of forests here and there,” he said. “What we realise is that if those areas are left semi-natural, that’s also a way of attracting biodiversity within your plantation. We’ve also seen that just simply having ponds will make it attractive for migratory birds or other animals that might want to use them. We’ve seen some very rare birds in some oil palm plantations.”

Wild Asia, which started out as a simple online information-sharing hub in 1998, has been doing biodiversity assessments in and out of plantations since 2005.

“This really gives us a perspective of what the opportunities are, in terms of biodiversity conservation,” said Reza. “But also, the important thing was the time spent with the managers and staff on the ground, looking at and understanding the issues that are impacting biodiversity.”

The partnership with the oil palm industry gave Wild Asia the platform and access to the industry, and resources to do workshops with plantation managers. Prior to coming up with the manual, the organisation carried out a series of three workshops.

“The idea was get a chance to enlighten the managers on biodiversity issues,” Reza explained. “It was also to get feedback and problem-solve, and give them useful exercises. So all that became the precursor to the manual.”

Apart from the Kinabatangan example, the manual provides other success stories of biodiversity management. The River of Life Project in the Tanah Merah Estate in Negri Sembilan, for instance, involved rehabilitating a river that connected a forested hill to a mangrove reserve, and tree-planting as part of a forest enrichment exercise. The project ended in 2008, and the trees planted remained healthy.

Read more on: The star

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kota Kinabalu’s First Recycling Centre

A song entitled, “A Clean Earth” marked the opening of Tzu Chi’s first recycling centre in Kota Kinabalu.【Photograph by Yong Sui Mee】
Tzu Chi Recycling Centre
The first recycling centre in Kota Kinabalu was officially opened recently. The developer, Sinar Pembangunan, has leased out the centre at a token rental fee of RM1/-. Senior citizens living in the vicinity have been gathering in this centre since it started operation in July 2012.

"Ready, one, two, three... pull!" A pack of recyclables hanging in the air was released to signify the official launch of Tzu Chi Kota Kinabalu's first recycling centre.

The launching ceremony for Tzu Chi's Taman Suria Recycling Centre in Penampang was held on November 3, 2012. As the centre is provided by Sinar Pembangunan at a token rental fee of RM1/-, it was fitting that representatives from the developer were invited to witness this significant moment. This project was realized after volunteers made several attempts to communicate Tzu Chi's efforts in protecting the environment to the local developer.

Lim How Gong, Manager of Sinar Pembangunan said, "We have built 2,000 houses in Taman Suria and Penampang to accommodate 20,000 residents." He supports what Tzu Chi is doing for the environment and is confident that the centre will enhance the residents' awareness in protecting Mother Earth.

Since its operation in July 2012, the centre has been collecting four tons of recyclables every month. Volunteers have been disseminating information on environmental protection to the residents, as well as, taught them how to sort recyclables into different categories.

Contributing on behalf of late husband

In order to educate more people on environmental protection, retiree Kong Siew Ying, who is in charge of the centre, has made extra efforts in providing free transportation to those who are keen to help out at the centre.

Siew Ying said, "I am willing to take up these two tasks, that is, to be the person-in-charge of the centre and to fetch those who are keen to help to the centre." Besides treating it as a responsibility, she hopes to fulfill her late husband's wish to contribute to environmental protection. Her late husband was a Tzu Chi volunteer, who passed away a few years ago.

Age is not a problem

Tzu Chi's Taman Suria Recycling Centre opens every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 4pm. Sixty-year old Leong Soh Moi always accompanys her husband, a stroke victim, in sorting recyclables.

Soh Moi informed, "Before this, we are either watching TV or sleeping at home. Through providing assistance at the centre, our lives have become meaningful. Besides, it is also a form of exercise for us; and this is extremely helpful to my husband, who had a stroke before."

Hiew Kon Kun, a 63-year old retiree, said, "I feel happy that I am able to help out at the centre. Initially, I was quite worried about my inability to help at the centre due to my age. But, when I saw other senior citizens handling the task of sorting recyclables with ease, my fear dissipated. I then promised myself that I need to come here more often to contribute my efforts in protecting the environment."

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Resort conserving 100 acres as wildlife corridor

Proboscis monkey

KOTA KINABALU: A Kinabatangan resort yesterday pledged not to clear 100 acres of its land.

By doing so, Myne Resort hopes to create a wildlife corridor which will benefit wildlife such as the pygmy elephants, the orangutans, the proboscis monkeys and so on, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun after witnessing the signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Borneo Conservation Trusts (BCT), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Myne Resort.

He lauded the effort and said the resort was fulfilling their corporate social responsibility (CSR) by doing so. Altogether, the resort has 200 acres of land at Kampung Bilit, Kinabatangan.

“This effort will benefit conservation efforts. It is also a new trend among resorts that promise long-term benefits and profits for them,” he said.

He went on to say that foreign tourists were no longer keen on just watching tall buildings and developments.

“They are here to experience something different. And the resort, though this MoU, promises to provide them with the experience to see wildlife when they stay at Myne Resort. I am glad this initiative is taking place. It is part of the component plan, at Kinabatangan, in the creation of the wildlife corridor which will be used as the pathway and habitat for elephants, orangutans and proboscis monkeys so that they will continue to thrive,” he said.

Nevertheless, Masidi also mentioned of the challenges faced in getting people to change their mindset on preserving wildlife and nature.

“Why don’t you think of utilising your land other than palm oil plantation? Why don’t you think of the possibility of conserving it, and build a resort like Myne (Resort) has done and make more money in the future which is sustainable? But unfortunately, not many people think there is a future. Probably they think they will die tomorrow, I don’t know. I think we need to convince them that it is for the good of themselves and Sabah. The lower Kinabatangan has the richest biodiversity in terms of wildlife,” he said.

Meanwhile, SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu hoped that more private agencies such as plantations and landowners will step forward and work with them and BCT to secure and re-establish ecological corridor for the wildlife at Lower Kinabatangan.

“We believe that conservation works could only be effective if we can share the responsibilities,” he said.

The managing director of Myne Resort, Ouh Mee Lan, on the other hand said the resort was popular due to its vicinity within the forest.
Myne Resort presently has 16 chalets and a longhouse, and in the near future and possibly this year, it will construct 40 new chalets.
Most of its guests are Europeans.

Source: Borneo Post

Come and Support Astro Kasih on GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Official Attempt for Longest UNDERWATER CLEANUP | Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Astro Kasih has initiated an environmental project named Beautiful Malaysia. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness on the importance of preserving our environment for our future generation. As we all know, our oceans have always been a dumping ground for toxic wastes, rubbish and other harmful materials; all of which are major sources of pollution. Continuous oceans pollution will affect the marine environment. So, underwater cleanups and conservation are great ways to protect the marine environment. In 2011, as part of the conservation initiative, Beautiful Malaysia saw divers, both local and foreign, breaking the Malaysia Book of Records by planting 777 individual corals at the Ribbon Reef in Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Therefore, Beautiful Malaysia will held an underwater cleanup this year with higher aim which is to carve our names in history with a Guinness World Records title for the longest underwater cleanup! Volunteers are highly welcomed! You will not only help make a difference but also be part of a world record attempt in the longest underwater cleanup. All you need is an Open Water Diver’s Certificate.

Below are the information and do not hesitate to join this green project!


Selected divers will receive:
Full-board stay (accommodation & meal) at Sutera Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Individual Guinness World Records certificate upon conclusion/success of the attempt.

Grand Celebration Party on April 13th 2013 with door gifts upon conclusion/success of the attempt.

Attractive lucky draw prizes:
ICON HD Dive Computer

NEMO Air Dive Computer

Mares Dragon Ergo Scuba BC with MRS & Weight System And many more…


Astro Kasih’s Marine Day.

Saturday, April 13th 2013
8am to 4pm
Taman Awam Teluk Likas, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Fun activities include:
Workshop And Talk Show On Marine Conservation

Cooking Demo by Celebrity Chef / Competition

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving Lesson, Beach Cleaning

Kid Activities: Colouring & Painting Contest, Sand / Paper Arts

Exhibition Booths, Beach Telematches, Sand-sculpture Competition 

Concert Featuring Top Artistes Such As Hafiz, Mawi, Jimi Palikat, Stacy, Adira, Dr Burn, Nichole Lai and One Nation Emcee

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sabah’s Imbak Canyon contains a wealth of information

Imbak Canyon (example)

KINABATANGAN: The early morning mist envelopes the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA). The chirping of birds, the call of gibbons and the sound of rushing water from a river are beautiful and unforgettable.

This writer recently went to the Gunung Kuli Research Station, located at the ICCA, the remaining part of unspoilt lowland rainforest in the heart of Sabah.

A trip to this pristine forest is incomplete without understanding the beauty of wildlife and trees.

The water in the Imbak River is crystal clear. In addition, a number of freshwater fish live in the river and other streams.

In 2010, a 10-day research expedition was organised at the Gunung Kuli Research Station. More than 100 researchers took part in the research expedition.


During their expedition, researchers found 50 species of medicinal plants and 28 species of orchids in the conversation area, which spans 30,000 hectares.

The Imbak Canyon is a priceless heritage site, which had been transformed into a Forest Conservation Area in 2010.

According to Dr Waidi Sinun, Yayasan Sabah’s group manager (conservation and environmental division) at the ICCA, the ICCA had been developed into a conservation area by Yayasan, Sabah Foundation, in 2003, for research purposes.

Today, the area is managed by the foundation.


Imbak Canyon is a 25km long valley in central Sabah. It is surrounded by sandstone cliffs that are more than 3,700 feet tall.

The Imbak Canyon forest consists of shrub communities as well as low forest communities.

Recognised as a genetic seed bank, Imbak Canyon is home to more than 317 species of plants, out of which 32 species are found in Borneo, with only six species present in Sabah.

According to Waidi, there are six different species of primates in Imbak.

They are the Borneo gibbon, the long-tailed Macaque, the Silvered Langur, the Red leaf monkey, the Proboscis monkey and the Pig-tailed monkey.

Waidi said the ICCA will combine Maliau Basin and Danum Valley so that a full-fledged research facility can be developed for biodiversity studies.


Efforts to develop the ICCA into a world class education centre were intensified after the launch of the Yayasan Sabah-Petronas Imbak Canyon Partnership last year.

Petronas contributed RM6 million to create a master plan for Imbak Canyon.

At the proposed Imbak Canyon Studies Centre (ICSC), there will be a laboratory, research and staff quarters, an observation tower, conference rooms, galleries and a nursery.

The facilities available at the Tampoi Base Camp in Imbak Canyon are not sophisticated. Currently, the base camp has hostel-type accommodation with washrooms, a camping ground and a dining area.

Petronas’ contribution is indicative of the organisation’s desire to conserve Imbak Canyon’s unique biodiversity, and to make it a central research hub for studies on environment and biodiversity.


“It is important to get the support of various organisations so that the Imbak Canyon can be developed into a conservation area to protect wildlife in Maliau Basin and Danum Valley.

“Equatorial rainforests, including the Imbak Canyon, play an important role in reducing the amount of carbon in the environment,” said Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Senior General Manager at the Petronas Group’s Corporate Affairs Division, at the launch of the YS-Petronas Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership.

Medan had visited the Gunung Kuli Research Station.

“Although we want to develop Imbak Canyon into a world class research centre, we will ensure that the area is environmentally friendly so that animals and trees are protected,” Waidi told Bernama.

“To make sure that ICCA, Danum Valley and Maliau Basin, remain true to its equatorial rainforest nature, every effort must be done to protect its rich biodiversity and ecological heritage


“The ICCA, Danum Valley and Maliau Basin are some of the places where visitors can see animals wandering freely. The animals will not harm human beings,” he said.

Unlike Maliau Basin and Danum Valley, the Dusun Sungai and Murut communities have been living near Imbak Canyon for generations. They have been living near the main river and its tributaries.

“We hope that we can create public awareness through educational programmes.

“People should know the importance of protecting wildlife and trees. This is what we want to share with the public,” he said.

“We want to preserve the knowledge of the Dusun Sungai and Murut communities for the younger generations,” said Waidi, adding that people should understand the importance of conserving flora and fauna.

Meanwhile, the Imbak Information Gallery Centre, funded by Petronas, will showcase the development of the ICCA, particularly in the area of eco-tourism.

“The locals will be provided an office space in the gallery. They can be tour guides too. They can enlighten the public on the importance of nature conservation,” he said.