Campaign should aim to add to number of trees


I REFER to the Star Lifestyle article “Not out of the woods” (The Star, June 22).

Planting 100 million trees in the next five years is an ambitious yet commendable plan, and one of the best remedies for reversing biodiversity loss and mitigating the worsening climate crisis.

All Malaysians should therefore embrace and support this achievable endeavour.

However, in our urban areas, certain actions by local authorities and individuals are not in sync with this undertaking. Trees are being cut down not for safety or practical reasons. In my housing area, age-old trees are being chopped down at the average rate of one a month.

What is worse is that the felled trees are not being replaced. Some trees near my house were cut down nearly two years ago but new ones haven’t been planted to replace them till today.

The 100 Million Tree-Planting Campaign is meant primarily to plant new trees especially on degraded areas or depleted jungles to restore the natural landscape. The emphasis is on “new trees”, hence this campaign should not be to replace trees cut down in urban areas.

Reduction of tree cover in urban areas will turn the environment into a heatsink. Without the cooling effect of trees, air conditioning powered by fuel that emits greenhouse gas will be needed to cool homes, shops and workplaces.

The 100 Million Tree-Planting Campaign should therefore work closely with local authorities and encourage them to preserve as many existing trees as possible. Local authorities should implement a KPI of replanting a cut tree within six months or less.

Provide incentives or rebates to those who are willing to have trees planted outside their homes, especially terrace houses. Impose heavy penalties on those who cut down trees without valid reasons.

Trees in urban areas play an important part in sustaining biodiversity. All trees provide a refuge for insects, birds and small mammals. Those that flower and fruit provide sustenance as well.

This tree-planting campaign must look at a holistic regeneration and maintenance of trees and include education and encouragement on preserving them in urban areas. In short, the 100 million should not be part of those planted to replace trees that have been cut down for whatever reason in urban areas.

KOO WEE HON

Petaling Jaya

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