Even children know trees provide oxygen and mitigate global warming. Saving the World is a noble goal but it sounds so ambitious to us. Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask you to be the Captain Planet. You only plant tree for yourself and your family. For example, having two mature trees next to your house can provide enough oxygen for a family of four. Plant one more tree and the shade of three trees, if strategically positioned, can reduce the need of air-conditioning by up to 50%. Good deal huh?
Parents always set aside of their personal desires and give the best to their kids. They accumulate wealth for their offspring so they will enjoy a better living. But how many parents will invest in better environment for future generations, so they can enjoy fresh air and clean water in future? Even fishes need clean water and watergrass in their aquarium to live happily. Ton of money in bank account won’t guarantee our children to have a quality life in an environment without clean air and water.
Malaysians have been taking clean air and water for granted. But these things can go away and it’s happening. The crystal clear stream, where I used to fish during childhood, turns into a smelly drain. I see less and less tree shades around my neighborhood, and people complain about the heat almost every day.
Mother Nature lets us choose between hell or heaven, depending on how we treat her. Tree always appears in the drawing of your kids about dream home. Let’s materialize it.
59% of Sabah is covered by forest, so Sabahans overseas always miss the greenery here, especially those staying in big cities such as Kuala Lumpur, where the car population is far more than trees. World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that bad air is a leading environmental cause of cancer, and 1/8 of total global deaths is directly linked to air pollution.
The following are the tree planting programs that individual, company, and organization can participate in Sabah, to increase the quality of our environment. Not all trees are the same, every tree type has its roles for upkeep of a healthy nature.
Plant rainforest tree for fresh air, clean water and starry night. Rainforest is also a Disney Land for birds and wildlife. Every tree you plant will produce approximately 260 pounds of oxygen annually and absorb about one ton of Carbon Dioxide in its lifetime.
By shading our houses and streets, tree can lower the temperature of city and shield us from excessive exposure to harmful UV. This makes our places safer for outdoor activities. That’s why forested park such as Tun Fuad Stephens Park is a favorite place for joggers.
Tree also absorbs pollutant gases (e.g. sulfur dioxide, ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Your home will be filled with cleaner air and less dust. The more trees you have, the more stars you can see at night.
During rain storm, trees act like big umbrella, slowing down the runoff and prevent flash flood. Large area of trees can form a wall to block hazardous strong wind. Sabah is experiencing more flood and stronger wind nowadays, as a consequence of deforestation.
A forested riparian is a good “braking carpet” to reduce large quantity of soil and pollutants being washed into the river by rain, thereby maintaining a clean supply of water to reservoir.
Wildlife will be benefited too. Besides providing shelter to animals such as orangutan and hornbill, fruit trees are important food source for them.
Where to join?
Don’t hesitate to ask your travel agent for info on tree planting, most of them are very supportive of this initiative.
Plant mangrove for seafood and protection against natural disasters. Mangrove was thought to be useless until a super Tsunami took thousands of lives in 2005. There was no death reported in the areas which had mangrove forest! Mangrove is a buffer between the land and the sea, so it can be a cushion that minimize the impact of tidal waves.
Green belt of mangrove forest is excellent in countering water-related disasters. For example, coastal area with mangrove forest is less vulnerable to typhoon. The mangrove tree also helps to stabilize the coastline by preventing erosion by sea waves.
During heavy rain, mangrove forest can act like a sponge to retain the water, a feature that mitigates flood. When filthy rivers flow through mangrove, the forest will filter the sediment and harmful heavy metals in the water, before discharging it into the sea.
Sabah is famous for abundance of seafood but very few people know the secret. Mangrove forest is breeding and nursery grounds for variety of seafood such as fish, crab, shrimp, and clams. 59% of mangrove of Malaysia is located in Sabah. Needless to say, mangrove is also an excellent spot for fishing and aquaculture.
The mangroves in Klias and Weston, the habitat of proboscis monkey and firefly, are well-protected. Now throng of tourists go there every day for firefly tour. Nature always repays us generously if we take care of her.
Where to join?
You can join mangrove replanting at Kota Kinabalu Wetlands. The local schools have been sending thousands of student to plant mangrove trees there.
If you want to get dirty and do something more than just a symbolic gesture, you can join their mangrove replanting project at Sulaiman.
Plant coral for tourism. If you have visited Sipadan Island, you will never forget the diving experience with schools of barracuda and dozens of turtles and sharks, which are drawn by the thriving corals there.
Coral is the home of fishes, and fishes mean food to big marine creatures. If our older generations had protected the corals well, we don’t even need to travel far and spend a lot of money to see these. Hope you see the point of leaving a great nature is better than leaving a lot of cash to our future generations. They will have to pay high price to enjoy what was used to be common. Seafood is also getting more expensive now.
As coral reefs are under threat globally, very few high quality coral gardens will remain intact. On the positive side, this is a magnet to tourists. In fact, tourism is the most important industry of Sabah after oil palm. A blooming tourism will create more jobs and income.
Same as mangrove, conservation of corals is vital in maintaining a sustainable supply of seafood.
Where to join?
You can take part in coral planting at Gaya Island Eco Resort off Kota Kinabalu City. Technically, coral is animal and not a plant, so you will be “planting animal” lol.
Usually coral fragments are used for the planting program. It has slimy secretion coming out of the pores.
All you need to do is just fix that fragment on a cement plate and place it in a stabilization tank. It’ll be released into the sea by the divers.
Besides planting tree and coral, you also can donate fund to environmental organizations like WWF for restoration of forest. Let’s think of the donation as an investment. The $100 cash deposited in our bank today would depreciate to $90 next year due to inflation. But for every $1 we invest in conservation, the return can be tremendous, because trees can grow and multiply.
Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo