Thursday, July 30, 2009

Langkawi Geopark as a Model

*photos by Dr Norhayati Ahmad

1. Langkawi Geopark is the first Global Geopark established in Malaysia. It is endowed with a diversity of geological formation being the oldest in the country, rich in marine diversity and terrestrial biodiversity.

2. In addition, Langkawi is also endowed with a very rich cultural diversity and various methos. Three areas such as Kilim-Kisap, Pulau Dayang Bunting & Mount Matchinchang are included in the Geopark. Other areas such as Mount Raya, Bukit Sawak are recognised as GeoForest Parks.

3. The country is also keen to establish a network of National Geoparks, a total of more than a dozen areas have been identified for evaluation using strict criteria as proposed by UNESCO. This idea augurs very well both for internal and international eco-tourism.

4. We are now developing biodiversity contents which will be put in web-based data which is to be developed in a month o two. In addition, we are going to strengthen public awareness and governance to make it a model for subsequent future establishment of other GeoParks in Asia-Pacific area, as well as the National Geoparks.

5. If these challenges and objectives are fulfilled and succeeded it would certainly leap-frogged the UKM researchers to a level that the country is proud of. After all the researchers at UKM who worked closely with Langkawi Development Authority and the Kedah State government and Federal agencies that ensured the establishment of the First GeoPark in Malaysia. I must confess there are many Malaysians out there who are still sceptical about the whole idea - only times will tell.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ismail Parlan and Gonystylus bancanus

1. Last week PhD candidate Ismail Parlan defended his thesis on Gonystylus bancanus management at Pekan FR, Pahang.

2. The Pekan FR is a peat swamp forest immensely rich in the populations of Gonystylus bancanus or Ramin melawis, a much sought after timber. After all this species is listed in CITES Appendix II.

3. According to him there have been a few PhD thesis written on peat swamp forest before his. He mentioned that of Dr. Samsudin Ibrahim of FRIM and Dr. Hizamri of JPSM

4. He discussed the pollination and pollinators of Gonystylus bancanus, in addition of stand structure and density.

5. He also discussed the harvesting regimes specifically for the species in order to achieve sustainable yield.

6. Years ago Dr. Samsudin Ibrahim of FRIM established a 5-ha Study and Monitoring Plot at the same forest reserve, which was consumed by socio-economic development. There went his years of useful data to the peat ....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Aneesah and Neolitsea

1. My Yemeni MS student Aneesah has had her viva voce on the systematic study of Neolitsea, a small genus in Lauraceae. Since the last treatment of the late Kochummen, Dr. Francis Ng is revising the family for the Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak.

2. There are things she agreed with Dr. Ng and there are a couple of things she chose to disagree. This is systematic botany. She did carry out studies on morphology, anatomy, palynology and phytochemistry.

3. N. zeylanica is now N. cassia and what Mr. Kochummen thought was a new species is now recognised a variety, N. cassia var. pahangensis. Dr. Ng also regarded it as a variant of the widely distributed N. cassia.

4. N. kedahensis and N. mollissima are conspecific, agreeing with Dr. Ng. However, Aneesah thought N. villosa and R. coccinea should be separated as distinct species.

5. She believed there is a new species tentatively called N. brinchangensis, collected without flowers and fruits from Gunung Brinchang, Cameron Highlands. Apparently this new taxon differs from the recognised ones above in both the morphological and anatomical features. We have to monitor this tree for its reproductive structures before describing it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Prime Minister's 100 Days

1. To commemorate PM Dato' Seri Najib's 100 days in the office as the 6th Prime Minister, I as a citizen of Malaysia wishes to put down some personal comments and wishes meant for him and his government.

2. I applauded the govenment decision to revert the teaching of Mathematics and Science to Bahasa Malaysia. As the Malay saying goes,"If you got lost go back where you started". However, the announcement was partially committed as the government insisted on English at secondary and tertiary levels. As I said in my earlier post let's have Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction at all levels because Bahasa Balaysia is the language of unity and English is the languagae of knowledge. It must be done from the start from kindergardens to university, for all levels, as the European did.

3. I disagreed with Tun Mahathir who lamented on the fact that after the WW2 the Japanese leant German to procure the technology and hence that's why the Japanese could built cars, the Greeks learnt Arabic to procure and understand philosophy and mathematics, etc (see NST 11/7/09) as I didn't see Japanese speaking German and the Greek speaking Arabic now. Only a small number of selected intelectuals and technicians did that. For Malaysia we want all future citizens to write and speak Bahasa Malaysia and at the same time they do with English and possibly another language, Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic, Japanese etc.

4. The government also intends to reduce the rate of those unnecessary tolls. The tolls had affected the poor so much in the past and the government play deaf on their cries. As the number of vehicles using the toll increase exponentially over time, over the longer period of years the toll concessioners would have the investment paid off.

5. The government also wishes to release the ISA detainees, especially the political and religious detainees whose detentions were a shady and not based on facts . I also wish the government eliminate the "elements of fear" within all strata of the community. It was quite real during the reign of Tun Mahathir.

6. I also applauded the government wish set-up the Economic Council which comprises the economic-thinkers. As the airport taxi driver said,"with the rich natural resources Malaysia has a taxi driver like him should no longer earn this much driving taxi for nearly 12 hours a day. not much time to rest, eran enough to buy his family foods".

7. Please revert the 3-year university curriculum in science to 4 years. Too much damage had been done to the students and lecturers. The 4-year system practiced in the 1970s and until it was changed by the present Prime Minister when he was the Education Minister, did many good things to science graduates. I started teaching in January 1979 until today, and I think I know what I am talking about. So do many other lecturers who are afraid to speak out .....again out of fear.

8. Tell me more about 1Malaysia as I was in the dark when Masyarakat Madani was introduced, when Islam Hadhari was popularised (to me Islam doesn't need an adjective), then now 1Malaysia. I tried to read the thoughts of some politicians and their wives explaining the concept and yet I can't comprehend, what more the less educated Malaysians in the rural areas who don't blog and don't have access to computers and don't read the newspapers.

9. I wish our PM pay more attention to the environmental issues which are affecting all activities to-day. The state of our rivers, species, soils, landscapes etc are in real peril ....let's show-case to the world what a megadiversity Malaysia can offer to them. Please strengthen our human resources and capacity (Dato' Pa tried a few years ago .....) , please strengthen our research institutions, including universities.

10. Please make us proud as Malaysians.

I purposely wrote 10 items, 1 item for 10 days in office. Best of luck Dato' Seri

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Integrated Management Plan for Belum-Temenggor

1. I look at Integrated Management Plan or IMP as a rational an sensible tool to sustainably manage an area, be it a permanent forest reserve, a park or an estate. This IMP has an owner and also a proponent.

2. The Belum-Temenggor area in Perak consists of permanent forest reserve (PFR), production forests, a large water bodies, rivers and streams, biodiversity, indigenous communities, etc. Part of the PFR has been gazetted as Royal Belum State Park which consists of more than 117,000 ha of undisturbed primary forests is administered by the Perak State Park Corporation. The rest of the forest areas are managed by the Forestry Department.

3. The large water body and its water margin is administered by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (National Energy Ltd.) the federal government agency which is responsible for running a few hydroelectricity dams.

4. There is the Indigenous Community Department which looks after the indigenous Temiar and Jahai; there is Drainage Department which looks after the rivers and streams; there is the Police Force and Army who look after the security of the area; the Gerik District Officer and of course the non-government oraganisations.

5. In addition, there is Northern Corridor Implementation Agencynof Northern Corridor Economi Region which is responsible for the socio-economic growth of northern Perak. There is also a Pulau Banding Foundation, which is interested to assist all the stake holders to achieve their wishes and concerns.

6. Because of the many stake-holders involved, there is a dire and urgent need for the IMP to be in place. The IMP will call for a Joint Technical Committee or possibly a Joint Advisory Committee to manage the area.
This will ensure some measures for sustainable development of the area as called for by both the state and federal governments.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Peat Swamp Forests and IMP

1. When one speaks of the peat swamp forests many thoughts come to our mind. The acidic water which is of the tea colour. The burning of peats in Sumatera and Kalimantan that caused haze in our country times and times again and many more.

2. Once upon a time there was vast tracts of peat swamp forests in Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak have more peat swamp forests which are rich in timber produce. Perak has some around Bagan Datok, Selangor has some in Raja Musa FR and Tanjung Karang area which had been converted to oil palm plantations, Johor has some on which pineapples grow and Pahang has some intact and pristine shallow peat swamp forests.

3. While we have lost much of the peat swamp forests, the Forestry Departments of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia with aids from UNDP came forward to conserve some at Klias, Loagan Bunut and Southeast Pahang, respectively. Dr. Efrasyah was the UNDP Chief Technical Officer, based at FRIM was instrumental in putting a project to conserve those for the generations to come.

4. The instrument put on the laps of our government is called IMP or Integrated Management Plan, discussed and agreed by all the stake-holders in the respective states and the federal government agencies. It is not a perfect document but it is the best template we ever had to give a good governance to managing our national heritage.

5. It is my hope similar set-ups in the country and states would follow this wonderful example. But, there again, a beautiful document does not guarrantee anything better if not followed by the government of the day. I wish the stake-holders would remain to be close to the state government to monitor the management of the peat swamp forests.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

All for Bio-Malaysia

1. Years ago I was invited to a national conference on Bio-Malaysia in Putrajaya. It was an excellent effort and initiative taken by then then government to address biodiversity for biotechnology. After all Pak Lah, our beloved Prime Minister believed that biotechnology could be our next engine of socio-economic growth, when launching the National Biotechnology Policy in 2005.

2. About the same year, when I met YBhg Dato' Dr. Abdullah Che Wan, famed for leading Badminton Association of Malaysia for many years is currently the Chairman of BioPerak. BioPerak was established the similar efforts for Perak. Many start-up companies were established to address the same.

3. The then Prime Minister, Pak Lah when chairing the National Biodiversity & Biotechnology Council, had expressed his views in support of the state level organisations or companies to utilise the rich and diverse biodiversity for biotechnology.

4. Then I heard there were rumours of the establishment of BioPerlis, BioPahang, BioKelantan etc. How true this rumous is I'm not in the position to tell. But I can tell you Sarawak and Sabah are serious with this as they had already established, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre and Sabah Biodiversity Centre, respectively.

5. Mext week I'm invited by BioJohor to a state level conference to revisit the similar issue. I'm not sure whether I am able to attend and deliver my thoughts as yet, as the semester has already began. I'm supposed to teach ethnobotany, biodiversity to first years students; taxonomy to 2nd year students and Biodiversity & Systtematics to post-graduate students.