Launched on Saturday, October 31, the Vale Eco-Centre is the Brazilian company’s corporate social responsibility initiative to instil awareness in the public, especially the local community on the biodiversity of the Teluk Rubiah forest. Managed by Vale in partnership with the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), it is the gateway of the 715-acre forest preserved by the tin-ore processing company out of the 1196-acre land it occupies.
Present during the launch were the Managing Director of Vale (Malaysia), Efrem Daumas, Vale’s Country Manager, Andre Kopperschmidt, MNS Honorary Secretary, Stephanie Bacon, MNS Executive Director, I.S. Shanmugaraj and guest of honour, Executive Councillor for Investment Promotion, Industrial Development and Corridor Development, Dato’ Mohammad Zahir Khalid.
Back in January, Vale and MNS carried out a scientific expedition in the forest and found an abundance of biodiversity which included over a hundred plants common to the lowland dipterocarp forest, 125 bird species, including the Great Hornbill and 28 dragonfly species while its shallow seas harbour eight hard coral species.
The three forest trails available at the centre are the main trail (400m), the waterfall trail (1400m) and the coastal trail (2200m). Other activities offered at the centre include education camps, guided forest trail walks, hands-on biodiversity experiments, bird watching, insect studies, ecological activities, coast and river monitoring.
The centre features a traditional Malay house with in-built skylight roofing, natural air ventilation and designed to contain rainwater, which is then recycled for the purpose of general cleaning or watering.
It operates from 8.30am to 6pm daily, including public holidays. Admission is free. To experience the forest trail walks, registration is required.
Vale is the world’s largest producer of iron ore and pellets and the second largest producer of nickel. Its iron ore distribution centre in Malaysia, known as Teluk Rubiah Maritime Terminal, started its operations in October last year.
Commenting on concerns that the terminal might affect the local fishermen, I.S. Shanmugaraj said, “The main jetty, not reclaimed but built on stilts, is providing a new breeding sanctuary underneath. Till today, the corals are surviving. Plus, there’s no massive ship traffic.
“Fishing boats and Vale vessels use separate routes. During the exclusive site visit, the media saw for themselves that there is no spill over. Hence, the effect is kept to a very bare minimum. We’ll be the eyes and ears for the public,” he remarked.