In essence, the reforestation project is carried out to connect our communities with nature, says CEO
SIME Darby Property Bhd (SDP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC), a local non-governmental organisation with expertise in rainforest conservation and research.
The MoU outlines the partnership between SDP and TRCRC for the operation of the Elmina Rainforest Knowledge Centre (ERKC) and an Endangered, Rare and Threatened (ERT) Native Tree Nursery within the 300-acre (121ha) Central Park in the City of Elmina, Shah Alam.
This area is connected to the 2,700-acre Subang Forest Reserve and will be an off-site conservation area, extending the rainforest into the township’s urban park.
SDP acting group CEO Datuk Wan Hashimi Albakri Wan Ahmad Amin Jaffri said the collaboration is a significant boost to the group’s sustainability efforts by safeguarding the existence of native endangered tree species at its townships for future generations.
“SDP has been involved in various environmental initiatives such as providing ample green spaces and landscaping in our projects and organising community events to raise environmental awareness and environmental enhancements through the planting of (ERT) tree species at our townships and developments.
“For the City of Elmina, our focus is on replanting an urban rainforest within the 300-acre Elmina Central Park to improve biodiversity value, help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon and create an environment that provides opportunities to learn about the importance of nature.
“In essence, the reforestation project is carried out to connect our communities with nature. TRCRC’s expertise will help us complete our mission and enhance community awareness on the benefits of co-existing with nature,” Wan Hashimi Albakri said.
The ERKC is positioned as the “gateway to Malaysia’s natural heritage”, with the objective of connecting communities within and beyond the City of Elmina to Malaysia’s natural heritage.
The centre will focus on environmental education and conservation, research and development (R&D), promotion of eco-tourism and other green activities.
The ERT Native Tree Nursery will be a facility focusing on producing up to 100,000 threatened species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
These trees will be planted first within the Elmina Central Park and due to their limited availability, the ERT Native Tree Nursery is the solution for the continuous supply of plants required for planting at the township and other SDP townships in the future.
TRCRC ED Dzaeman Dzulkifli said protecting and conserving threatened and endangered plant species are at the heart of what TRCRC does.
“Our collaboration with SDP will help raise awareness on the plight of Malaysian rainforests, and hopefully make rainforest conservation more accessible for people to participate (in),” he added.
The construction of the ERKC at the City of Elmina is underway and expected to be completed by mid-September 2019, while the ERT Native Tree Nursery will be constructed by the middle of 2020. TRCRC plans to
manage and operate both facilities, with a portion of the profits from the sale of trees from the nursery funding the programmes at the ERKC.
This ties in to TRCRC’s core work of addressing biodiversity loss by rescuing endangered plant species, nurtu- ring them in their Tropical Rainforest Living Collections, then using the seedlings to restore Malaysia’s forests.
These new initiatives build on the group’s biodiversity programme which started in 2011 with the TREE Programme (an environmental initiative focusing on communities) and the T-2-T Initiative — a tree planting tracking calculator that is used to keep a record of all landscape tree planting — both IUCN Red List Species and Exotic Tree species planted at its townships.
As at December 2018, SDP has planted 2,800 IUCN Red List trees at the City of Elmina and a total of 19,089 IUCN Red List trees across its 21 townships.
The nursery will aid in ramping up efforts by SDP in delivering more sustainable townships in the future.
As part of SDP ongoing biodiversity programme, the group has also published the “Malaysian Threatened and Rare Tree Identification and Landscape Guideline” — providing useful information for landscape architects, students and others to identify tree species, understand their growth form, aesthetic value and environmental needs.
The guideline is available for free through SDP, Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Forest Research Institute Malaysia and Yayasan Sime Darby websites.