ABOUT 40 students from SMK Teloi Kanan in Kedah made their August school holidays worthwhile by doing their bit for the environment.
Together with their headmistress, Nooriah Bahari, they planted more than 1,000 mangrove seedlings and 500 seeds at Telok Rubiah in Kuala Gula.
The activity was organised by Global Environment Centre (GEC), the school and Sahabat Hutan Bakau (Friends of Mangrove Forests).
It is also part of SMK Teloi Kanan’s tree planting campaign, which has a goal of 10,000 trees planted this year.
Sahabat Hutan Bakau was formed in 2006 with the help of GEC to help raise awareness and educate local communities about the importance of mangroves as well as help with the rehabilitation programme. It was the first planting exercise under GEC’s Kuala Gula mangrove rehabilitation project.
An SMK Teloi Kanan student planting mangrove seedlings as part of the Kuala Gula mangrove rehabilitation project.
On the day they arrived at the mangrove nursery, the students helped to prepare the nursery beds as well as transport the seedlings to the planting site.
At night, they were shown a video presentation on the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary at the Wildlife Depart-ment Centre and GEC’s northern region coordinator Balu Perumal gave a talk on the importance of the area as a bird sanctuary.
On the next day the students took about two hours to plant the 1,000 seedlings and 500 seeds.
The seedlings were planted in a 10ha area in Telok Rubiah, which is the designated site for the mangrove rehabilitation project. More seed-lings will be planted over a one-year period.
GEC envisions that the rehabilitation of the degraded mangrove area through planting and increased protection will improve the surrounding mangrove habitat.
The long-term plan is to develop the area into a nature park/bird sanctuary managed by the local community.
It was the first step towards rehabilitation of one of the few remaining mangrove sites along the west coast.
Next year, GEC and the school plan to mobilise students nation-wide to plant one million trees and hopes that it can be achieved in the Kuala Gula area.
Mangroves are the only defence against sea storms and tsunami and without them, coastal villages such as Kuala Gula will be left defenceless and at the mercy of nature.
Kuala Gula covers 6,870ha and has been earmarked as a Ramsar Site (Wetlands of Global Importance).
It is a small fishing village and an important eco-tourism site, renowned as an important migratory bird research and observation site.
However, over recent years, the mangroves along the coastline have been degraded. Following the tsunami in 2004, there has been an urgent need to address the lack of mangrove protection.