ABOUT 150 staff members from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) landscape department have planted 2,020 mangrove saplings at Kampung Nelayan, Kuala Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau.
The number of saplings was chosen to mark the year 2020, with the council moving towards the target of planting 100,000 saplings in all coastal areas by year 2023.
MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said 34,928 saplings had been planted on Penang island so far.
“Last year, the Forestry Department planted 2,015 mangrove saplings in the area and we hope the council staff members will leave their ‘footprints’ here at this forest reserve by planting at least one sapling each, ” he told newsmen at the site recently.
Yew said the planting was an important step to stop erosion with the plants acting as a buffer by absorbing rainwater.
“The name of the species planted is ‘Rhizophora apiculata’ or ‘bakau minyak’, ” he said.
Penang has seen serious threats to mangrove swamps with the advent of aquaculture activities plus pollution. Illegal mangrove swamp clearing through burning had also contributed to the problem.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had, in 2019, urged the state to carry out conservation efforts for the mangrove forest in Penaga and Kepala Batas.
It said the state had principally agreed to gazette the mangrove forest as a permanent forest reserve back in 2007 but nothing had been done since then.
The state Forestry Department, according to SAM, had already mooted to the state that the Penaga mangrove area, which was then approximately 200ha, and other sites should be gazetted as permanent forest reserves.
On Nov 1,2019, The Star carried an exclusive report on the Penaga mangrove forest which had amazed experts after growing from only 200ha two decades ago to almost 600ha.
Seberang Prai City Council mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud had given his assurance that the mangrove forest would be zoned as a sensitive area, contrary to claims that the area – a haven for migratory birds and a boon for fishermen – had been marked as an ‘aquaculture industrial zone’.
He had reportedly said a 500m buffer zone would be created to separate the forest from the industrial-scale aquaculture ponds.