New Internationalist

Hands-on in Malaysia: a photoblog

Humans have already destroyed 25% of the peatlands on Earth, according to Wetlands International.

Hmm...so what?

Well, nothing, if we symphatize with environmental destruction and climate change. But if we don't... Peat forests are usually cleared in the cheapest way, by setting them on fire. This releases massive amounts of CO2 (globally, peatlands contain 550 gigatonnes of carbon - twice as much as is stored in the world's forests). And we all know what that means.

Tropical peat swamp forests represent a very high biodiversity ecosystem.

So... what is there to do?

A low-tech solution: peat forest rehabilitation, Malaysia-style.

The Marcotting method: planting baby seedlings from adult trees.

Mahong seedling ready to become a tree. Survival rate 90%.

More than 2,000 volunteers have already participated in Malaysia's first community-based peat forest rehabilitation programme in the Raja Musa Forest Reserve. Organized via facebook and twitter, they plant the fast-growing Mahang seedlings twice a month, from 9am to 11.30ish.

Baby Mahang in Raja Musa, MY

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Mangroves, one of the most important coastal ecosystems, are victims of ignorance and degradation, too. Through irresponsible agriculture, farming, dam-building and general negligence, humans have managed to massively reduce global mangrove areas. Sounds familiar...

But for all the baddies, there are also good people. Tree-planting and awareness raising involves local communities which can become primary defenders of the degraded environment.

'Please, try not to get stuck in mud.' Mangrove-planting site in Kuala Selangor Nature Park.

Filtering systems and coastal protectors, mangroves can also absorb tsunamis.


Low tide in a mangrove forest. Among the locals are Mudskippers (fish that walk).

Photos: Giedre Steikunaite

See also: Visiting the mangrove of Kuala Selangor, Malaysia by Iris Cecilia Gonzales and Malaysian Vignettes. The trip to Malaysia was organized by the European Journalism Centre for TH!NK3: Developing World bloggers.

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