Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, Past and Present

“Deforestation happens every minute. How many trees we can save?” Environmentalists are always dismayed by the clearing of forest everywhere, as if we are fighting a losing battle. It’s really frustrating that whenever we plant one tree, others cut a thousand at the same time. Anyway, a lush forest starts with a few small trees, so I would say “Every tree counts! Just do whatever we can.”

In fact, our efforts are bearing fruit, but it takes a long time to see them. For example, thousands of mangrove seedling were planted in Kota Kinabalu Wetlands (KK Wetlands) by nature lovers from all walks of life since 1998, and the trees are flourishing. The following chronicle photos would comfort your minds.

Above: note both sides of the boardwalk are tall and dense trees today. We planted a lot of mangrove here in annual World Wetlands Day.

Above: the entrance to the boardwalk was once an open area. See the small tree at the right. It is so tall after 10 years!

There is a saying in Chinese, “The predecessors plant the tree and the descendants enjoy the shade” (前人种树,后人乘凉). We always pave the way for our next generation, so they can have a better future than ours, that’s already an unspoken mission of parents. For example, we let our children inherit our big houses, profitable family business and lot of fortune.

However, does money mean EVERYTHING to our future generation? Do you think they can live happily if the air they breathe and the water they drink are dirty? If we handover our house to our sons and daughters, it’ll be clean and even nicely renovated, right? Our earth is also like a house, sadly, many people decide to handover an earth that is messy and piled with rubbish to their kids. Pollution issue such as stinky river and hazy sky isn’t “a problem next door”, your offspring won’t get away from your wrongdoing, so please keep our environment clean and green.

Above: We rehabilitated the mangrove trees along the river bank. See what we get after 10 years!

Above: a clear area becomes densely forested now, after Department of Irrigation did a mangrove replanting only 5 years ago.

Above: the mangrove trees also grow very high. The Wisma Perindustrian building almost “disappears” behind the wall of tall trees. Many wild birds find this spot a paradise and like to gather here in the late afternoon.

Above: illegal immigrants stealing clams
Things seem fine but KK Wetlands is still facing many challenges. Just to list a few, some bird species vanish after the golf course opened. Otter and monkey disappeared since the invasion of illegal squatters near the park. And don’t even think about cleaning the rubbish brought in by the river every day, they are too many.

Though small (24 hectares), KK Wetlands fulfills the criteria to be certified as a Ramsar site, designated under the Ramsar Convention, for wetland of international importance, in terms of fauna & flora, ecology system and feeding stop for migratory birds. Malaysia has 6 Ramsar sites and Kinabatangan Floodplain in Sabah being the biggest. If KK Wetlands becomes untouchable Ramsar site, many greedy developers will be disappointed, as they can’t wait to flatten this area, which is a gold property due to its proximity to the city.

We need to fight for the survival of the wetland, like the recently proposed high-rise condominium developments close to the park. Those developers want to use nature view as the selling point of their property, but the things they do have detrimental impacts to the mangrove. When I worked there, I also chased away many illegal immigrants who trespassed our park to steal clams. So now you can see, this park is being bugged by BIG and small “flies”.

Above: these replanted mangrove trees have fully grown and I saw them bear fruits yesterday!

Well, at this moment, let’s enjoy what we have and wish that they will stay for us forever.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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