Striking a balance between conservation and development

Gamuda Gardens’ unique natural topography is preserved, resulting in breathtaking views with key lookout points. The green surroundings are inviting for family recreation like cycling and jogging.

“To WITNESS the transformation of this land, from an abandoned monoculture rubber plantation to the green lung it is today, loved not only by the community but also a diverse range of birds, dragonflies and butterflies, has been a humbling experience,” said Khariza Abdul Khalid, executive director of Gamuda Parks.

The initiative is created by Gamuda Land to oversee environmental restoration programmes and implementation of biodiversity improvement strategies in all its projects.

She is referring to the 328ha (810 acre) Gamuda Gardens development, located in northern Klang Valley and recently recognised as the first and only township development in Malaysia to clinch the FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Award under the Environmental Restoration category.

“Notwithstanding the host of legacy issues, we listened to what the land has to tell us and mindfully use this guiding principle to respectfully restore the land to its natural state. We preserved the natural features of the land, the hilly terrain, to create two cascading waterfalls. We widened the streams into five lakes and planted native plant species to attract biodiversity. To accelerate plant growth, we adopted the Miyawaki planting method to create dense forest clusters,” Khariza explained.

Biodiversity restoration

The land was formerly used to grow a single type of crop, rubber trees. As a result, this depleted and exhausted the soil, depriving it of flora variation which affects the diversity of fauna species. In returning biodiversity to this barren land with undulating land topography, the focus was to work with nature instead of against it.

In doing this, engineers and landscape architects worked closely together to identify the location peaks and valleys to ensure minimal cut-and-fill activities to minimise impact on the land. Through a terrain preservation approach, Gamuda Land adjusted the development of the terrain according to the slope of the open spaces and incorporated terracing activities while positioning homes along the contours of the land, thus creating hillside as well as lakeside homes.

“To keep ourselves in check, we conduct regular biodiversity audits to measure the health of the environment in our developments. Since 2014, we have conducted three biodiversity audits in Gamuda Gardens and over the years, we are excited to see an increase of species and biodiversity density within the township,” said Khariza.

Various native and non-native bird species have been spotted in the parkland. Seen here is the chestnut-bellied Malkoha.Various native and non-native bird species have been spotted in the parkland. Seen here is the chestnut-bellied Malkoha.

On the flora side of things, the audit has found close to 8,000 trees across 20ha, some 77% of which are native species while 33% of the species classified as having conservation importance have been planted. At least 22 species at high risk of global extinction were identified at Central Park including Critically Endangered and Endangered species under the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

Migratory and IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) critically endangered red list bird species such as the Little Grebe and chestnut-bellied Malkoha have been sighted. The presence of such highly endangered birds underscores the fact that Gamuda Parks’ efforts are proving to be effective in biodiversity restoration.

Creating a dense urban forest

The rehabilitation strategy to restore the degraded land and rebuild the once flourishing biodiverse ecosystem saw Gamuda Land adopting the Miyawaki forest restoration method.

“Through the Miyawaki planting method, trees can grow 10 times faster, jump starting the forest creation process, and 30 times more dense than usual, thus capturing more carbon. This is an ideal method for creating diverse forest ecosystems and restoring biodiversity quickly,” added Khariza.

After three years of planting, the density of the fast-growing native trees in Gamuda Gardens Central Park was found to be comparable to that of the average tropical Malaysian forest. The retention of overstorey tree clusters has helped provide a habitat for birds, as well as natural shade for the 5.5km walkway for residents and park visitors.

Advanced tree planting (ATP) was also conducted to ensure there will be lush greenery in the development. Various plant species including native plants were selected to create a balanced ecosystem. This is done by procuring desired and identified trees and saplings in advance, where these trees are nurtured and monitored at nurseries set up within its developments for at least two years before being transplanted onsite.

The 1.6ha (four-acre) ATP nursery site at Gamuda Gardens goes through diverse activities including data collection, relabelling and horticulture maintenance with the intention of ensuring controlled forms and heights – only indigenous plant species with a minimum requirement of 50mm girth is given the green light for transplanting. Plant tagging are also implemented to educate and raise awareness among the community once they are replanted.

Gamuda Gardens’ Central Park with 8,000 planted trees aims to mimic the Miyawaki tree planting method as seen here at Valencia, Sungai Buloh.Gamuda Gardens’ Central Park with 8,000 planted trees aims to mimic the Miyawaki tree planting method as seen here at Valencia, Sungai Buloh.

A town that stands the test of time

The FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence award places high emphasis on projects that truly embody sustainability and having good environmental values. Malaysian development projects have been advancing along the time, always keeping up-to-date with the latest technology and trends, hence transcending over time and constantly on par with projects from other countries.

In fact, local developers have proven their unparalleled strengths by staying resilient through adversities and possessing the ability to outshine projects from other countries. They are often applauded for their innovation, creativity and overall quality, making them the worthy winners of the World Prix Awards said Dr Yu Kee Su, secretary of World Prix Secretariat.

This is Gamuda Land’s second FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence in the environmental restoration category after taking home the same award for the restoration of Gamuda City in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2018.

“This is how we look at the details to create towns that can stand the test of time, where our community can grow up and grow old in,” Khariza concluded.

In line with the Gamuda Green Plan’s environmental and biodiversity conservation efforts, Gamuda Land’s biodiversity enrichment initiatives like the advanced tree planting nurseries aim to nurture and plant 1 million trees and saplings by 2023.

This initiative will further bolster the development of 607ha (1,500 acres) of greenscapes and waterscapes across 12 urban forest clusters within Gamuda Land’s townships by 2025.

Efforts such as this aim to reduce the urban heat island effect by increasing tree and vegetative cover throughout its townships and sponge rainwater runoff–ensuring its townships stand the test of time for generations to come.

Gamuda Land is the first and only property developer to own a comprehensive framework under the Gamuda Green Plan.

It charts tangible targets driven on environmental, social and governance (ESG) dimensions set forth over the next five years, with an extended view to 2030 and beyond.

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