Proud showcase of our rainforest

Dr Mahathir being greeted by students in indigenous attire at the launch of the ‘Hutan Kita – Journey Through Our Rainforest’ exhibition at KL Tower. With him is Dr Xavier.

OUR forests are not only home to diverse flora and fauna, the green cover protects against soil erosion and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

That is if we retain our precious resource as lush and green.

The “Hutan Kita – Journey Through Our Rainforest” exhibition at KL Tower is among the government’s efforts to spread awareness on the importance of preserving our forests.

The exhibition, which ends on Sunday, was certified by Malaysia Book of Records as the largest tropical rainforest species exhibition.

It was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Showcasing some 850 species of flora, the event also features a range of activities including communal tree planting, photography and colouring contests as well as a treasure hunt.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said Malaysia was one of the 12 most mega-diverse countries because of its rich biodiversity, with almost 70% of the world’s known species found here.

“More than 55% of our country’s land area is covered by forests. This exceeds the 50% pledge made by Dr Mahathir during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, ” he said at the launch of the exhibition, which is free entry to all.

Malaysia’s forests are referred to as dipterocarp forests as they are mainly populated by trees from the Dipterocarpaceae family.

Banjaran Titiwangsa, which is the backbone of the peninsula and stretches 500km southwards from the Thailand border, is the largest remaining continuous forest tract in Peninsular Malaysia.

Our forests also serve as important water catchment areas and are the source of rivers that supply us with fresh water.

Dr Xavier said it was vital for everyone to play their role in the conservation of our precious forests.

“Land and forest management comes under state jurisdiction and the Federal Government can only advice the states when it comes to the issue of deforestation.

“Standard operating procedures in forest management are in place and this year, we will table the Perhilitan Reform Act in Parliament besides addressing land reform, ” he said, referring to the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 or Act 716 and the Land Development Act 1956.

The exhibition is one of the ministry’s initiatives under the Our Forest Conservation Programme 2019-2020, which aims to showcase the rich biodiversity of Malaysia’s forests.

Dr Xavier said the government would step up efforts to enhance sustainable forest management and mainstreaming biodiversity in Malaysia’s socioeconomic development agenda post-2020.

“This includes increasing the Totally Protected Areas from 13.2% to 20% by 2025 as set out in the National Policy on Biological Diversity, and the five-year 100 million tree planting campaign, ” he said.

Dr Mahathir had earlier announced at the launch that the merbau (Malacca teak) tree as our national tree.

It was selected as a symbol of the integrity of our national forest as a result of sustainable management and conservation efforts, and also as a symbol of the importance of the forest to the country’s industries and the economy.

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