Mangrove destruction leaves other ecosystems at peril now

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PETALING JAYA: An environmental NGO, has called on relevant authorities to take immediate action and protect Langkawi’s vital ecosystems, following the destruction of a mangrove forest on the island.

Commenting on the mangrove forest in the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park in Langkawi that was destroyed, Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (EcoMy) president, Irshad Mobarak told FMT there were three main things which the authorities needed to do.

The first was to identify, establish and protect the remaining Core Ecological Zones (CEZ), which included rainforests and mangrove forests.

A network of wildlife corridors which will allow wildlife to migrate between (CEZ) habitats must also be established, he said.

This, he explained was crucial to ensure the sustainability of a healthy gene-pool, food source and shelter for animals.

He also said authorities needed to scrutinise the Environmental Impact Assessment reports of all development in and around natural areas regardless if the size of the property was smaller than the legal size required.

“We are an island and therefore relatively speaking much smaller and its natural heritage more vulnerable to any kind of encroachment.”

Irshad said mangroves were a crucial habitat for marine fish, crab and prawns and that 70 per cent of commercial fisheries required mangroves in its life cycle.

Furthermore, he said the mangroves were home to many birds, including the Brown-wing Kingfisher, which in Malaysia, could only be found on the island.

“Mangroves serve as a sediment trap that reduce the flow of sediments in the seas, thus protecting the marine corals and the fish that live there.”

He added that mangroves also ensured clearer waters for Langkawi beaches, and that this was a plus for tourism.

FMT yesterday reported on the destruction of the mangroves in Langkawi by a company which was given the green light by state authorities to develop the land, but had yet to receive permission to fell the mangroves.

The state authorities are taking action against the company.

The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is part of the Langkawi Geopark, which is South-east Asia’s first geopark to be endorsed under the Unesco Global Geopark Network.