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Monday September 26, 2005

Putting things right for good of all

SELANGOR Forestry Department director Nik Mohd Shah Nik Mustafa said a blueprint to map out a new mangrove forest management plan would be incorporated into the Selangor Mangroves Management Plan 2006-2015. Done by forest experts of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) agriculture faculty, the blueprint is expected to be ready in two months’ time. 

“It is a 10-year plan incorporating new and comprehensive zoning for production, conservation, fishery and eco-tourism,” he said. 

Production zones will see the division of the forest for intensive and less intensive management while conservation will cover the virgin jungle and areas for education and research. 

Blood clams are a delicacy to the locals who live near mangrove forests.
Nik Mohd said the forest along riverbanks could be designated as a fishery zone. 

The eco-tourism zone, he said, was open forest with basic wooden walkways and infrastructure for rest and recreation. 

He added that the blueprint would also look at timber and non-timber management. 

Nik Mohd said UPM would also be recommending constructive methods on the production of honey and bee’s wax especially from the Avicennia mangrove forest while the palm Nypa Fruticans forest could be managed for the production of sugar. 

“With this blueprint there will be tighter control on forest reserves and the main mangrove swamp islands which collectively have an area of 4,085ha,” he said. 

A Silvered Tail Langur foraging for leaves and insects on a mangrove tree.
The islands are Pulau Ketam (2,900ha), Pulau Tengah (790ha) Pulau Klang (270ha), Pulau Che Mat Zin (40ha) and Pulau Rusa (85ha). 

The department has issued eight logging licences for Pulau Ketam and the surrounding area, allowing 1,093ha to be logged.  

Nik Mohd said although the mangrove had long been used for domestic purposes, felling was being controlled in the forest reserve.  

“More alarming is that commercial interests have started to come into play. Timber from the mangroves is used as firewood on a small scale, as well as construction materials and fishing stakes. 

“Our department is extra cautious in granting licences for controlled felling of mangrove trees. But in managing the mangroves in Selangor, yield regulation has always been fixed on an area basis. It is based on a productive area of 8,760ha and on a rotation of 12 years,” he explained. 

He said, on average, 500ha were subjected to both thinning and final felling annually, with the balance kept as reserves and for localised conservation from time to time. 

“It is environmentally sound to fell the mangrove trees in certain areas as it has been observed that between the age of eight and 12 years, the forest becomes overcrowded and at least 20% to 30% of the trees will succumb to self-thinning,” said Nik Mohd. 

“Our concern is to keep the island mangroves intact, especially Pulau Tengah. It is internationally recognised in the Asian Wetlands Directory as one of the major resting site for migratory birds using the East Asia-Australia route. More than 100,000 birds of nearly 100 species stop for rest in Pulau Tengah and other spots in Peninsular Malaysia along their journey,” he said. 

He added that apart from birds, the mangroves also supported a variety of mammals, such as the Smooth Otter, Leopard Cat, Common Wild Pig, Long-tailed Macaque and Silvered Tail Langur. There is also a large variety of snakes and monitor lizards.  

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