IT is something we often take for granted.
At a time when everyone’s noses are buried in their cellphones, our landscape is often overlooked and its role underrated.
But if we take a closer look at our surroundings, we might just be able to reap results of seeds that we sow, literally.
Recently, our National Landscape Department urged all local authorities in Malaysia to plant flowers, shrubs and shade trees to beautify our environment.
Its grand vision is to create a scenic garden nation by this year, in line with Visit Malaysia 2020 and other international events.
But having pretty surroundings is just one thing.
Not many realise that we need such green spaces to bring down soaring temperatures in cities.
By planting sufficient greenery in cities, urban areas can be cooled down by as much as 8°C, according to some studies.
And it is high time we took heed of this effort, with the growing concern over climate change and warmer weather due to rapid development and heat-trapping emissions from various sources.
The move by the department to spark off a makeover for our landscape has generally been well received by the public.
But some netizens have raised an important aspect of it, namely maintenance.
Without proper and regular maintenance, the entire purpose of beautifying our environment will be defeated.
Unpruned trees, plants and shrubs will easily grow out of shape, causing it to be unsightly or, even worse, block road signs, traffic lights or pose safety hazards.
Proper knowledge and skills are also needed in maintaining greenery in cities, especially if they are old trees.
Previously, there have been cases of fallen tree branches or trunks injuring motorists due to lack of maintenance.
In 2018, a couple was hurt when their motorcycle crashed into a fallen tree in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
The year before that, in a separate incident, a Form Five student was killed when a falling tree branch hit him while he was riding his motorcycle in Melaka.
In 2014, two policemen died when an uprooted tree fell on a beat base in Kuala Lumpur during a thunderstorm.
As such, local authorities would have to look into improving maintenance standards if the people were to gain from what a good landscape has to offer.
There is also a need to know the conditions that are suitable for various types of trees to be planted.
According to the World Health Organisation, green spaces in urban areas can provide various social and health benefits.
Aside from promoting better physical and mental health among the people, green pockets like parks also provide more opportunities for social interaction and leisure.
But while the department and local councils can provide the facilities and green spaces, it is ultimately up to Malaysians themselves to treasure what they have.
Simple actions like not littering and cleaning up after using common facilities will go a long way in protecting the green, green grass of home.
And make sure that it stays green.
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