New mobile app to raise awareness on forest conservation

Available free on Google Play, the app was launched in conjunction with Malaysia Day and MNS’ 80th anniversary celebrations on Sept 16

By SOON LI WEI / Pic BERNAMA

WANT to learn more about hornbills, birds, tapir, elephants and monkeys? Spotted a wildlife species in your backyard or housing area and want to make a report?

Now, with just a click on a new mobile application developed by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), members of the public can educate themselves on forest conservation and environmental matters, and report any related issue to the organisation.

Available free on Google Play, the app was launched in conjunction with Malaysia Day and MNS’ 80th-anniversary celebrations on Sept 16.

MNS president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said conservation and environmental activism are no longer limited to professionals working and interpreting data in the field.

“The public can now pitch in through our mobile app that not only educates, but also invites them to contribute to conservation from the screens of their smartphones.

“We want them to know that simple acts, such as segregating waste, recycling plastic, conserving water and electricity, avoiding littering or even sharing environmental care tutorial videos can contribute to clean waterways,” he said.

The new mobile app is a collaboration among the society, App Lab Sdn Bhd and CTC Global Sdn Bhd. Through the app, MNS members and followers can keep abreast with its programmes and projects, and access its latest news and know-how.

App Lab MD Tan Kok Pin said the company, as the application developer, took pride in ensuring the design and interface of the app is trendy yet easy to use for non-tech- savvy users.

“Important news and educational updates get lost these days in the cluttered highway of the social media newsfeed. As such, a dedicated platform such as this app will help MNS convey timely and accurate information,” he said.

Cultivate Awareness

CTC Global MD Dennis Koh said the MNS app can help users access information on outdoor activities, such as hiking, and find out where the best trails are located, as well as learn more about the nation’s rainforests and national parks.

He said environmental-based experiential programmes, such as hiking and other outdoor activities, can help the youths to reconnect with their environment and community.

Ahmad, who is also an ecotoxicology and wildlife ecology expert, said it is crucial to cultivate awareness on environmental care from young, especially in the area of forest conservation and preservation, and a good place to start is by including lessons about the environment in the school curriculum.

He said MNS has established Environmental Education Centres (EECs), typically linked to globally-important areas such as World Heritage Sites, Important Bird Areas and Ramsar sites, to promote environmental education and global collaboration with MNS.

“We are expecting 1,000 schools to join the MNS-School Nature Club initiative by the end of this year. We will focus on issues like awareness, education and research that are part of our 14-year strategic plan 2017-2030.”

Promote Ecotourism, Birdwatching

We want people to learn about our ecotourism attractions. For example, there are 10 hornbill species in Belum-Temengor, says Ahmad

Ahmad said MNS has proposed to Tourism Malaysia to make available information pertaining to Taman Negara in Pahang and Belum-Temengor forest reserve in Perak on their mobile app to boost Malaysia’s ecotourism sector.

“We want people to learn about our ecotourism attractions. For example, there are 10 hornbill species in Belum-Temengor that have been categorised as totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010,” he said.

He said the app would also carry articles on deforestation and its harmful effects, and their campaign to ban hunting of wildlife.

“We hope to educate the young on forest conservation. Lately, there have been news reports on wild animals such as tigers, elephants and tapir straying into human settlements and causing conflict between man and animal,” he said.

Unsystematic forest exploration is shrinking the forest, he said, adding that human settlements located close to animal habitats are having an impact on wildlife and forcing the animals to wander into human territory.

“Take for example small animals like monkeys and the conflict that has arisen because they trespass people’s property to forage for food,” he added.

Meanwhile, MNS head of conservation Balu Perumal said the society is working with BirdLife International through a European Union-funded project, namely MY Forest Watch, for five years to increase participation in forest governance and advocacy.

“One way BirdLife International and MNS hope to stem forest loss is through building the capacity of staff and volunteers to effectively participate in conservation activities and projects, and have access to tools that will increase the likelihood of successful implementation and advocacy for conservation impacts.”

He said they are committed to strengthening local community involvement in the advocacy and protection of Malaysia’s green spaces as important habitats for its wildlife.

“In achieving these goals, MNS seeks to work with its state branches, local communities, non-governmental organisations, and public and government agencies to ensure the success of the (MY Forest Watch) project,” he said. — Bernama