We are pleased to be continuing this trend of pursuing green initiatives since planting trees brings a positive and meaningful impact to the environment, says group CEO
by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by BERNAMA
AT A time when the whole world is changing due to the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gas Malaysia Bhd stays true to its commitment to improving conservation efforts of the environment.
Gas Malaysia, a member of MMC Group, recently took its employees far away from the city and into nature, where they planted mangrove trees at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP).
Led by group CEO Ahmad Hashimi Abdul Manap, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative saw close to 300 mangrove seedlings of the rhizophora mucronata species planted along a designated area in KSNP.
“Our corporate ambitions and CSR efforts are interdependent for our business to be sustainable in the long run. This balance is important for us as we recognise that generating improved earnings in the industry is not our sole priority,” he said.
As a responsible corporate entity promoting natural gas as a clean energy alternative, he said the company is fully aware of the significant role that its business lays in environmental conservation.
Weathering the Pandemic
Ahmad Hashimi shared that Covid-19 affects all industries including gas, an important energy source. When the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented, gas consumption decreased.
“But positively, upon entering the end of May, many industries, manufacturers and gas consumers resumed using gas, and we hope that it continues until the end of the year,” he said.
Although the MCO had cost the company at least 25% of total gas consumption, he said recent months showed that it returned to almost before the lockdown.
“There were also industries that increased the use of gas during the MCO, such as the rubber sector (demanding around 30% to 35%) since the production of pharmaceutical gloves increased, so this helps reduce the impact for the overall reduction,” he added.
Gas Malaysia’s clientele is largely in manufacturing, including the rubber, food and beverage, glass, ceramic and metal sectors. Therefore, the company has a strong financial position to continue its business in the pandemic era.
Committed to Green Initiatives
Amid the pandemic, Gas Malaysia is committed to adhering to the government’s strict standard operating procedures.
In ensuring the success of its CSR programme, supervisors from KSNP will be monitoring the mangrove’s growth and survival over the next year.
“Studies have shown that mangroves play an important role as a natural barrier against erosive coastlines and are an important breeding ground for diverse marine life.
“Given the enormous benefits of cultivating mangrove trees, proper administration and conservation are therefore necessary to ensure the continued existence of mangroves,” Ahmad Hashimi elaborated.
Previously, in a similar effort, Gas Malaysia has partnered the Forestry Department of Pahang and executed a CSR initiative by planting rhu pantai seedlings along the coastline of Kampung Pantai Sungai Ular in Kuantan.
“We are pleased to be continuing this trend of pursuing green initiatives since planting trees brings a positive and meaningful impact to the environment,” he concluded.
Declining Mangrove Trees
Also present at the event was Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail.
He revealed that over the years, mangrove trees are declining due to several factors, some are harder to control than others.
“The climate is changing. Strong winds can damage mangrove trees.
“The trees that we planted are still young and not yet strong. So, when the storm comes, the trees will fall and die,” he explained.
The second is coastal erosion which occurs due to strong waves.
“The Malacca Straits is one of the busiest ship routes in the world, so, imagine the pressure exerted by the movement of these ships on our shores which affects the mangrove ecosystem,” he said.
Other factors that affect the mangrove forest population are pollution and mangrove ecosystem imbalance that occurs when too much damage is inflicted on young mangrove trees from animals such as crabs.
“Human actions also play a part when mangrove forest areas are used for aquaculture activities, such as shrimp and fish farming, as well as for development,” he stated.
Ahmad believed that it is time the government takes firm actions and gazette forests as protected areas.
He said by doing so, the public will know where the real boundaries are to not disturb the natural habitat of the mangrove trees.
He also invited more corporate bodies and volunteers to come and plant mangrove trees in Kuala Selangor, adding that MNS will take care and make sure the mangrove forest remains there for decades to come, especially in the areas that have been gazetted as forest reserves.
“MNS can help care for this forest area. That is how important the mangrove ecosystem is.
“In addition to its role as fishing resources and the breeding ground for marine life, forest reserves can be used for education, research and ecotourism,” he said.
Ecotourism is something that must be understood properly and taken advantage of. It can be translated to conveying information, such as on ecological biology, to those who are interested in mangrove ecosystem.
“We cannot do the usual exhibitions in the forest because monkeys would disturb all our signboards, so we need professional guides to bring tourists and provide accurate information to the community.
“So, this mangrove ecosystem in ecotourism is very important, not only in attracting tourists, but also in increasing employment opportunities,” he commented further.
Additionally, Ahmad said the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia has been aggressively identifying the forest reserves that they have, with some premises classified as permanent forest reserves or recreational forest reserves.
He said the move is for the department to plan the next action to ensure that the forest reserves are protected and untouched by irresponsible parties.
“If we allow tourists, we need to consider the number of people we let in, especially as the community’s dependence on the mangrove forest is very high,” he added.
Not only do the local tourism sector and coastal fishermen depend on the well-being of the mangrove forest, but it is also related to climate change and global warming, and Malaysia is among the countries that support and make preparations to curb the ever-growing threat.